Perrier Group of America plans to build a $100 million spring water-bottling plant in central Michigan. Construction on the plant is set to begin in a few weeks, and it will open in May of 2002, according to company officials in a recent statement.
The plant will bottle groundwater pumped from four wells at a second site nearby a privately owned, 850-acre deer hunting reserve. The company will transport the water to the plant through an underground, 12-mile pipeline consisting of two 6-inch stainless steel pipes at a rate expected to reach up to 500 gallons per minute.
The 500,000-square-foot plant will employ 45 workers, and that number could grow to as many as 200, Perrier officials said at a news conference at Ferris State University.
Both sites are in southern Mecosta County. The company is awaiting approval from state environmental officials to withdraw water from two existing wells at the Morton Township site. Two other wells are to be drilled later.
The spring water would be bottled under Perrier's Ice Mountain Natural Spring Water label. It would be distributed to Michigan and other Midwestern states.
Greenwich, Conn.-based Perrier also announced that it would start a $500,000 environmental stewardship fund, a gesture to environmental groups that have opposed the development.
The company wants to pump as much as 720,000 gallons of water daily and has tried to assure residents that extracting that much water won't harm surrounding wells or the ecosystem. Perrier officials say it equals the same amount of water that evaporates off Lake Michigan every 14 minutes.
Before it can begin pumping, Perrier must obtain approval from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), which has scheduled a public hearing for Wednesday May 16.
Environmentalists said the stewardship fund amounts to a drop in the bucket when compared with the plant's expected revenues. They are expected to ask the DEQ to hold off approving Perrier's permit application to pump water from the wells until environmental impact studies can be made.
Perrier has 75 springs and 15 bottling plants nationwide.