Last week, the state of Michigan approved a permit that would allow Nestle to significantly increase the volume of fresh water it currently pumps with no extra cost.
Four days later and 100 miles away, residents of Flint, Michigan were told they would no longer be receiving free bottled water from the government.
Naturally, many Flint residents were left wondering: why does a food and beverage giant get to bottle water for next to nothing, while residents are forced to pay for their right to lead-free water?
"We the citizens of Flint are unable to get water, but you can give Nestle water for free and force us to buy that back at a premium," said Flint resident, Anthony Paciorek.
"That ain't right."
While state officials have declared Flint tap water safe to drink, there are still thousands of lead pipes that remain in the city.
In fact, according to The Washington Post, more than 12,000 homes in Flint still have lead pipes that need replacing.
As a result, many residents remain worried by the quality of water in their homes, and they continue to rely on bottled water for their everyday needs.
i live in Flint. i haven't washed my hair in my home in 4 years. when I brush my teeth, i use filtered water. i shower and my skin has strange reactions. my accumulated water bill is almost at $1500 at this point. i'm not paying.— tunde olaniran (@tundeolaniran) April 10, 2018
nobody from the city or state has ever directly reached out to me to say "here is the water quality in your home"— tunde olaniran (@tundeolaniran) April 10, 2018
Nevertheless, the governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, announced on Friday that city residents would no longer receive free bottled water from the state.
Instead, residents will have to pay some of the steepest tap water prices in the country: around $200 per month for water they aren't even sure is safe to drink.
To put all of this into perspective, Nestle pays around $200 per year to pump almost 100,000 times the amount of water that the average Michigan resident uses.
And now, the company has been given the go ahead to pump nearly double that amount – with no additional cost, of course.
i'll repeat: the State of Michigan announced Friday that it was ending bottled water distribution in Flint, four days after it approved Nestle's permit to pump 500,000 gallons of fresh water per day for.... $200.— tunde olaniran (@tundeolaniran) April 10, 2018
Even though over 80,000 people – including 9 Tribal Governments - have publicly protested Nestle's permit request, Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) said it could not base its decision on public opinion.
But that didn't stop residents and politicans from trying.
"… there needs to be a balance between the economic benefit of Nestlé and the responsibility of the MDEQ to protect Michigan's environment and natural resources," said Michigan state representative, Tim Sneller, in a recent opinion article.
"What's more, Nestle Waters' request comes at a time when Flint residents are being told their pipes will not be replaced entirely until 2020," he added.
"This means they will have to continue relying on bottled water for the next three years and likely even longer."
In light of the permit approval, residents of Flint have announced plans to boycott Nestle's products.
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