Editorial

Michigan’s Golf Courses Will Take Much More Water Than Nestle

Macomb drain commissioner blasts water bottling plant while county courses soak up water

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has approved a permit to allow Nestle to increase the amount of water it draws from a commercial well in Northern Michigan for bottled drinking water. The food and beverage company will now be able to withdraw up to 400 gallons a minute at its plant in Evart, up from 250 gallons a minute.

The approval drew this reaction from Candice Miller, a former Michigan secretary of state and Republican member of Congress who is now the Macomb County drain commissioner.

“Where will Nestle be when the water is gone and the community is left with nothing, but dust and dirt?” Miller said, according to the news site MIRS.

Miller said there may be an initiative to try to overturn the decision.

In 2016 Miller was elected to head her county’s drain commission, called the Macomb Office of Public Works, responsible for maintaining the network of drains that remove standing water from low-lying land in the county.

ForTheRecord says: Michigan environmental regulators analyzed how much water is used by the state’s golf courses in 2004. They estimated that golf courses around the state used 34 million gallons per day for irrigation. Over the course of a 225-day golf season – April 5 to Nov. 15 – that would amount to 7.6 billion gallons of water.

If Nestle ran its bottling plant 24 hours a day for an entire year, the most water it could use would be 210 million gallons.

The state report said that golf course sprinklers lose between 5 percent to 40 percent of their water due to wind drift and evaporation. That means as much as 3 billion gallons of water are “lost” by golf courses every year.

According to a county website, there are 26 golf courses in Macomb County.