While residents of Flint, Michigan, pay for poisoned water, Nestle Waters pumps out millions of gallons of clean ground water that fills Lake Michigan for free (video below).
According to Democracy Now!, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality awarded permits to Nestle Waters in 2001 and 2002 to extract up to 400 gallons of water per minute, which ended up being about 200 gallons per minute after a citizen lawsuit.
Nestle Waters paid a small permit fee to the state, and leased the land from a private landowner, but the largest water bottling company in the world got $13 million worth of tax breaks to build its water pumping plant in Michigan.
Jane Lagin, of Nestle Waters, told Democracy Now! in a statement: "We are deeply invested in the Muskegon River watershed and its sustainability. Our water use is always permitted and compliant with the permitting authorities."
Meanwhile, in Flint, residents are struggling to pay some of the highest water bills in the U.S. for their contaminated water, which was caused in part by politicians' plans to privatize the water company.
In a separate report, Democracy Now! noted that an unelected emergency manager, who was appointed to Flint by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, switched Flint off the Detroit water system and onto the polluted Flint River.
Claire McClinton, of the Flint Democracy Defense League, told Democracy Now!:
"We were being told that the Detroit water system, which we got our water from, was charging too much money and, 'We’re going to build this new pipeline so you folks can have cheaper water.'
"'While we build the pipeline, why don’t we go to the river? You know, the one that General Motors dumped all that crap and stuff in, all the industrial toxins and stuff? We’ll go to that river in the interim.' And these decisions were made by an emergency manager.
The people in Flint got upset over the smelly, discolored river water, so city officials poured chlorine into the water, which reportedly led to a byproduct: carcinogenic trihalomethanes.
The river water also caused the city's aging plumbing system to corrode, and lead got into the water. There was also an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, which is caused by bacteria in the water, that ended up taking the lives of 10 people.