Governor Granholm issued a fiat last week restricting the distribution of the water that Nestle Waters North America is pumping from wells up north in Evart for its bottled water product called "Ice Mountain". Guv Jen says water from Evart can only be sold within the Great Lakes basin.
Considering the size of these inland seas, you'd think their basin would cover a great expanse. Not so. The Great Lakes basin barely includes Michigan, the Ontario peninsula, and the lakeside fringes of surrounding states. Most of Chicago, for example, lies outside the basin and so is a market banned by Guv Jen to Nestle's.
Granholm imposed the distribution ban upon Nestle's by the unprecedented maneuver of making it part of Nestle's permit to build on state property a transfer station for water pumped from Evart. It appears that Guv Jen monkeywrenched Nestle's to get attention for her proposal for comprehensive regulation of water withdrawn from the Great Lakes basin. In other words, the Guv's ban has no merit in its own right.
Nor should it. The idea that Nestle's, or even all of the world's bottlers of water, could pump the Great Lakes dry is absurd. They wouldn't even make a significant dent in the amount of water in the basin. Whether or not Nestle's wells in Evart or Big Rapids (its primary facility in the state which is unaffected by Guv Jen's ban) have a negative impact on the local water table, I don't know, but I wonder how that would be any different than the local impact of a mine or logging operation or an industrial farm.
Imagine how impoverished a place Michigan would be if its government had banned the distribution of iron and copper, lumber and cherries, furniture and automobiles beyond the state line. Michigan's waters are just another resource, and one that people outside of Michigan will pay a great deal of money to drink. (Think about it, dear readers, a gallon of bottled water is more expensive than a gallon of gasoline -- even at today's record prices. That makes us the Saudi Arabia of freshwater.)
Just as we don't allow the destruction of our forests to extract valuable timber from them, we don't have to allow harm to our watershed to let Nestle's bottle our water. But Guv Jen is all wet when she bans distribution of a Michigan resource to most of its market. That kind of thinking is a good way to make us poor while sitting atop riches.