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Hundreds turn out for hearing on Nestle water pumping plan

April 13, 2017
Leesha Fagan listens to the public comments for a public hearing on a Nestle Waters North America's proposal to boost the volume of groundwater it pumps for bottling on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 in Big Rapids, Mich. The company wants to withdraw up to 400 gallons per minute from a well in Osceola County — up from 150 gallons per minute. The request is pending with state regulators. (Neil Blake/The Grand Rapids Press via AP)

BIG RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Hundreds of people turned out for a public hearing on a company’s proposal to boost the volume of groundwater it pumps for bottling in western Michigan.

Nestle Waters North America wants to withdraw up to 400 gallons per minute from a well in Osceola County — up from 150 gallons per minute. The request is pending with state regulators.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says it has a large amount of information to consider. After Wednesday night’s hearing at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, public comments are being accepted through April 21.

Environmentalists critical of the request say the plan could hurt wetlands if the company were permitted to drain more underground water for its Ice Mountain bottling operation.

Nestle representatives say the increase wouldn’t hurt the environment.

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