Court of Appeals rules against Nestle in bottled water suit

    Sussan J. Demas

    A Michigan Court of Appeals panel on Tuesday reversed a local judge in a case between a northern Michigan local government and Nestle Waters North America.

    The COA panel ruled that Osceola Township had the right to deny a zoning permit for a pump station for the company’s Ice Mountain bottled water operation, which would have allowed it to pump out 576,000 gallons per day. The case is Nestle Waters North American Inc. v. Osceola Township.

    Nestle argued that it met the “essential public service” exemption to the township’s zoning ordinance and an Osceola County Circuit Court judge agreed. However, COA Judges Cynthia Diane Stephens, Deborah Servitto and Amy Ronayne Krause ruled that Nestle selling bottled water is not “essential.”

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    “There is no legal or factual basis for considering plaintiff’s commercial water bottling operation to be a ‘public water supply’ under the MSDWA [Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act],” they wrote.

    The world’s largest food and beverage company, Nestle has long drawn fire from environmental activists in Michigan and across the country for its bottled water business.

    Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.