Nestle Waters North America, parent company of Ice Mountain Spring Water, is moving forward to appeal a controversial decision issued last year by the Mecosta Circuit Court. The Mecosta court denied a request for a new trial, thereby rejecting an opportunity to hear important environmental evidence that shows groundwater withdrawals by Ice Mountain are having no harmful impact on local waterways or ecosystems.
"We are disappointed that the court has again declined the opportunity to hear important information about the healthy state of the environment, which currently exists throughout the spring site area, contrary to the predictions which the court adopted in its original decision," said Michael Haines, attorney representing Nestle Waters North America. "This evidence is compelling, as was recognized by the Court of Appeals in its stay of Judge Root's injunction pending appeal.
"Following today's court decision the company will move forward with an appeal before the Michigan Court of Appeals," continued Haines. "We believe the Mecosta Circuit Court has fundamentally misunderstood key scientific evidence in this case, and has not followed the law.
"The court makes false assumptions that this ruling will affect very few users. The court assumes both that Nestle is alone in using 'shallow, unconfined aquifers,' and that other types of groundwater use do not affect surface waters.
"In fact, a great many large groundwater users in Michigan draw water from shallow unconfined aquifers," Haines noted. "For example, here in western Michigan, many agricultural and irrigation wells as well as municipalities produce water from shallow unconfined aquifers.
"Further, the court in its opinion also incorrectly assumed that only shallow unconfined aquifers interact with surface waters. Scientists tell us, though, that virtually all groundwater withdrawals in Michigan have effects on surface water resources, regardless of whether the withdrawals are from aquifers that are deep or shallow, confined or unconfined," Haines added.
On Nov. 25, 2003, the court ordered Ice Mountain to cease by December 16 all withdrawals of groundwater from the company's sole source of spring water. A stay granted by the Michigan Court of Appeals has allowed Ice Mountain operations to continue while the appeals review proceeds. The stay protects Ice Mountain's business and the jobs of nearly 140 employees.