STANWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — The Ice Mountain water plant in West Michigan is asking the state for permission to nearly double the amount of water it pulls from the ground at its well site near Evart.
The well is located in located near 9 Mile Road and 100th Avenue in Osceola Township.
The plant run by Nestle submitted documentation for the change earlier this year. Company officials say they currently pull 250 gallons of water from the White Pine Springs site each minute. As part of a $36 million expansion, they are asking to increase that to 400 gallons per minute.
Company leaders at Nestle say they’re expanding to meet increased demand. The Ice Mountain plant has seen a 13 percent increase in demand over last year and for that, they need more water, officials said.
Members of the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation group are just getting word of the change and are now hoping they may be able to stop it.
“I think there’s tens of thousands of people who would object to this,” said Jeff Ostahowski, vice president of MCWC. “Jumping to 400 is a big jump and it needs to be done in a responsible way, if in fact in can be supported.”
Arlene Anderson-Vincent, the natural resource manager at Ice Mountain, told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday that the company has researched the expansion and contends the impact on the area would be minimal.
“It’s very prolific — lots of water in this area,” Anderson-Vincent said. “We’ve been monitoring the system closely as we’ve increased it slowly over time… There’s been a lot of homework done, a lot of science. Water is our business. ”
In documents filed with the request to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Ice Mountain officials say they expect water levels in wells nearby to decrease by a foot.
The public is allowed to comment on the move before the MDEQ makes its decision.
Ostahowski said the group plans to submit objection to the plan. He says he would like to see the company gradually increase its draw to the 400 GPM mark — if it increases at all.
“As a corporation, they have their own interests and that doesn’t necessarily always coincide with the public interest,” Ostahowski said. “What we do now, we do need to make sure that it is sustainable.”
Ice Mountain officials promise that it is, pointing to their investment in the plant so far. They say the latest expansion will add at least 20 jobs to the local economy.
Written comments can be submitted by email to email@example.com or by mail to:
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance
P.O. Box 30241
Lansing, MI 48909-7741
MDEQ extended the public comment period until Dec. 3. MDEQ will also hold a public hearing although the date and location have not been set.