Tag Archive | Nestle

OKT Food Justice Series: Water Justice

This is the third in a series of weekly posts highlighting OKT’s Food Justice series. You can download series handouts here for free.

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OKT asks you to stand with the native peoples and water protectors at Standing Rock in opposition to  DAPL

As the media hype around the Flint Water Crisis wound down, the focus shifted to the safety of public drinking water throughout Michigan and lauding charities for collecting and distributing bottled water to Flint residents. A lot of effort is being put into band-aid approaches that do not solve the root cause of the problem. Meanwhile, Flint’s children continue to be poisoned every time they drink, bathe or brush their teeth with tap water.

Although a better alternative than drinking poisoned tap water, flooding the City of Flint with  bottled water causes other problems. For one, the city is now awash with millions of empty plastic bottles. For another, bottled water is a product. Charities and individuals are purchasing this product from corporations like Nestle, which takes water from Michigan’s ground water stores. According to a Feb. 2016 Democracy Now broadcast, “Nestlé, the largest water bottling company in the world, (is allowed) to pump up to 400 gallons of water per minute from aquifers that feed Lake Michigan … in Mecosta County, Nestlé is not required to pay anything to extract the water, besides a small permitting fee to the state and the cost of leases to a private landowner. In fact, the company received $13 million in tax breaks from the state to locate the plant in Michigan.”

(Since first publishing this document on Water Justice, Nestle is proposing to pump ad additional 210 million gallons of water a year from its Mecosta County site.)

While our state and city governments cannot find money to repair our failing water infrastructures, they can afford to give away millions, if not billions, of dollars to private corporations that have convinced us to buy bottled water. Many communities across the country and around the world have sold their municipal water works to private corporations – with disastrous results. In 2011, the City of Grand Rapids considered privatizing its water. Thankfully, Mayor Heartwell declined.

web_830x437_fact-publicwater-webAccording to Food and Water Watch, water privatization “undermines the human right to water … When private corporations buy or operate public water utilities – is often suggested as a solution to municipal budget problems and aging water systems. Unfortunately, this more often backfires, leaving communities with higher rates, worse service, job losses, and more.”

Food & Water Watch has documented these, among other, problems with
privatizing water:

  • Loss of Control. Local government officials abdicate control over a vital public resource.
  • Loss of public input. Citizens don’t vote in the corporate boardroom.
  • Loss of transparency. Private operators usually restrict public access to information.
  • The objectives of a profit-extracting water company can conflict with the public interest.
  • Cherry picking service areas. Private water companies are prone to cherry-picking service areas to avoid serving low-income communities.
  • Rate Increases. Investor owned utilities typically charge 63 percent more for sewer service than local government utilities.
  • Higher Operating Costs. Private operation is not more efficient and can increase the cost of financing a water project by 50 to 150 %.
  • Service Problems. This is the primary reason that local governments reverse the decision to privatize.
  • Jobs. Privatization typically leads to a loss of one in three water jobs.
  • Privatization can allow systems to deteriorate.

take-backIn its handouts, OKT often includes the words, “Healthy food is your family’s right.” We also proclaim, “Clean, harmless water is your family’s right.” This right must be taken by comparing energy providers to find the best fit. If there are options in your are. Therefore, OKT asks you to join with us in demanding that the City of Grand Rapids, City of Wyoming and
Michigan municipalities:

  1. Ensure that our tap water is safe to drink and bathe in. This includes employing more reliable testing measures for lead content.
  2. Reconsider fluoridating our water supply as fluoride has been associated with health risks. Let people choose for themselves whether or not to
    ingest fluoride.
  3. Decline from considering privatizing our municipal water supplies.
  4. Call for the end of giving Michigan’s water away to Nestle and other bottled water corporations.
  5. Stop cutting off water service to households with delinquent water bills and cease from using liens from unpaid water bills as a means of seizing property from homeowners.

 

 

 

Nestle is Pumping Millions of Gallons from the Great Lakes for Free While Flint Pays For Poison

Reposted from US UNCUT  Nathan Wellman | February 18, 2016

 

imrs-php_1One of the most infuriating aspects of the Flint water crisis is that residents are not only still being charged for their poisoned water, but they’re being charged higher rates than almost anywhere in the country.

Residents continue to pay $864 a year for water that is making them sick, more than double what most Americans pay for water service. Flint’s water service charges total 7 percent of the average household income, compared to the United Nations recommendation of 3 percent. “They’ve been using that money improperly for years to fund the general operations of the city,” said Valdemar L. Washington, who’s been fighting the excessive increases in court since 2012. “The city’s sewer fund had a balance of $36 million in 2006 but was running a $23-million deficit by 2012.”

Meanwhile, less than two hundred miles away, multi-billion dollar corporation Nestle has been pumping millions of gallons out of Lake Michigan for free. In fact, they receive 13 million dollars in tax breaks to do so.

Despite making over 15 billion dollars in profits in 2014, Michigan government officials don’t charge Nestle per gallon of water, instead taking only a small permitting fee, as Democracy Now explained:

So not only do low income Flint residents technically pay more for Michigan water than Nestle, but now they’re also forced to buy bottled water from Nestle to stay alive. Flint residents are in the deplorable position of being forced to buy Michigan water from two different parties.

The Nestle bottling plant itself is a hated institution in Mecosta County. As if getting water for free wasn’t enough, the corporation greedily pumped at a rate of 400 gallons a minute, destroying the local environment. Grassroots organization Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC) sued Nestle, who bitterly fought the local group for years.

“We wanted to protect our water, and the water was ours, not theirs,” said Peggy Case, President of MCWC. “This lasted for—like I said before, this lasted for eight years. And in that time, with lawyer fees and, you know, all the fees that come with going to court, we spent over $1 million.”

And how did a local activist organization scrounge up the money to fight a corporate giant? “We scrambled for every penny we could get,” Case said. “We did 50/50 raffles among us, or anybody else we could get into it. We did yard sales. We wrote grants. We had bake sales.”

In a stunning victory, MCWC succeeded in forcing Nestle to reduce their withdrawals from 400 to 200 gallons a minute. But Nestle continues to receive free water and preferential treatment.

And Flint residents continue to be overcharged for water that is not only killing them, but bankrupting them as well.

Nathan Wellman is a Los Angeles-based journalist, author, and playwright. Follow him on Twitter: @LightningWOW

Nestle exec, “Human beings don’t have a right to water”

Nestlé’s water privatization push

Reposted from The Story of Stuff.com  

Note: Nestle has water extraction operations in Michigan. Click here for information.

Peter BrabeckAcross the globe, Nestlé is pushing to privatize and control public water resources.

Nestlé’s Chairman of the Board, Peter Brabeck, has explained his philosophy with “The one opinion, which I think is extreme, is represented by the NGOs, who bang on about declaring water a public right. That means as a human being you should have a right to water. That’s an extreme solution.”

Since that quote has gotten widespread attention, Brabeck has backtracked, but his company has not. Around the world, Nestlé is bullying communities into giving up control of their water. It’s time we took a stand for public water sources.

Tell Nestlé that we have a right to water. Stop locking up our resources!

At the World Water Forum in 2000, Nestlé successfully lobbied to stop water from being declared a universal right —declaring open hunting season on our local water resources by the multinational corporations looking to control them. For Nestlé, this means billions of dollars in profits. For us, it means paying up to 2,000 times more for drinking water because it comes from a plastic bottle.

Now, in countries around the world, Nestlé is promoting bottled water as a status symbol. As it pumps out fresh water at high volume, water tables lower and local wells become degraded. Safe water becomes a privilege only affordable for the wealthy.

In our story, clean water is a resource that should be available to all. It should be something we look after for the public good, to keep safe for generations, not something we pump out by billions of gallons to fuel short-term private profits. Nestlé thinks our opinion is “extreme”, but we have to make a stand for public resources. Please join us today in telling Nestlé that it’s not “extreme” to treat water like a public right.

Sign the petition to tell Nestlé to start treating water like a public right, not a source for private profits!

Sources and further reading:
Nestlé: The Global Search for Liquid Gold, Urban Times, June 11th, 2013
Bottled Water Costs 2000 Times As Much As Tap Water, Business Insider, July 12th, 2013
Peter Brabeck discussion his philosophy about water rights