Ice Mountain Files for Stay, Warns of Possible Layoffs

The Ice Mountain Spring Water Co. said to has asked Mecosta County Circuit Court to stay an order prohibiting the company from withdrawing water from its wells while Ice Mountain prepares to appeal the ruling.

The company said in a news release the court's Nov. 25 decision would "effectively shut down the bottling operation if legal actions to reverse the decision are unsuccessful."

If the court does not grant the stay, the company said it would lay off 120, or 82 percent, of the plant's 147 workers.

In response to a lawsuit filed by a citizens group, Circuit Judge Lawrence C. Root ruled that the plant's withdrawal from its wells in Morton Township could harm the environment. Water from the wells is pumped 13 miles southwest to the plant, which is near Stanwood, about 50 miles north of Grand Rapids.

He said the withdrawals have caused a "material diminishment" of water flows and levels in neighboring lakes, streams and wetlands.

Ice Mountain is one of the most popular brands of bottled water in the Midwest. Its parent company is Nestle Waters North America, the nation's largest producer of bottled water, which has such brands as Ice Mountain, Poland Spring, Arrowhead and Deer Park.

The Ice Mountain plant opened in May 2002 at a cost of $100 million. The company completed a $50 million expansion this year that increased the facility's size by 75 percent.

Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation sued Ice Mountain in June 2001.

Root gave the company 21 days to halt pumping from the wells to give it time to come up with an alternative plan.

The Associated Press

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