The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says they now have all the information they need to decide if Nestle Ice Mountain can pump more Michigan water for their bottling plant in Mecosta County.

The department already has study results from Nestle and data from government scientists.

The last element they say they needed was input from citizens. Wednesday night they got plenty during a public hearing in Big Rapids.

“The permit must be denied for legal, scientific and ethical reasons,” said Peggy Case, president of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation.

“Ice Mountain has demonstrated a track record of environmental stewardship and community involvement,” countered Jim Sandy, president of the Mecosta County Development Corporation.

Nestle Ice Mountain wants to increase the gallons pumped from a well near Evart from 150 to 400 per minute.

They have a bottling plant near Stanwood in Mecosta County.

Several hundred people came to the public hearing at Ferris State University to offer an opinion. Most were negative.

“Stand up and say no to this,” Linda Travis asked the DEQ administrators hosting the hearing. “Our fresh water supplies, our streams, rivers, lakes and aquifers are not unlimited resources.”

“I’ve been with the company for 15 years,” said Nestle hydro-geologist Greg Fox. “The science and extensive studies Ice Mountain has done in this application is the reason you should approve it.”

The public can still offer input through e-mail or the U.S. Mail until April 21, 2017. A DEQ spokeswoman said it is not known when the agency will make a decision.

“We have a large volume of information to get through,” said DEQ information officer Melody Kindraka. “We will be doing that as quickly as possible.”

“There is tremendous public interest in this activity,” said Jeff Ostrowski of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation.“We need honest science and we need transparency.”

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