A judge has ruled in favor of Nestle Waters North America about a controversial booster pump station needed to draw more groundwater.
Judge Susan Sniegowski issued an opinion on Dec. 20, ordering Osceola Township to issue a zoning permit to construct the booster pump house.
Nestle wants to increase its production well in Osceloa Township from 250- to 400-gallons-per-minute.
The pump house is a crucial piece of infrastructure it needs to move more water from a controversial wellhead near Evart to the company’s water bottling plant in Stanwood.
Nestle’s plan has been opposed by some environmental groups, including the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, over concerns about taking too much water and the potential consequences.
Wednesday’s ruling is one of two necessary steps for Neslte to proceed with the pumping plan.
The state Department of Environmental Quality also must approve the pumping increase to 400 gallons per minute.
The DEQ has slow-walked Nestle’s application after it was disclosed last fall and subsequently generated significant opposition from the public and Michigan tribes–particularly in the wake of the drinking water crisis in Flint and water shut-offs in Detroit.
The attorney for Osceola Township, Bill Fahey, believes the judge made an improper analysis of the township’s zoning ordinance in her Dec. 20 ruling.
Officials with Nestle, in a statement released Thursday evening, said they were pleased with the ruling.
“We firmly believe the plan we proposed met the Township’s zoning ordinance. Of all our options, we believe the booster station will be the most efficient and environmentally friendly,” according to the statement.