News Story

Nature Outstrips Commerce In Discharging Great Lakes Water

St. Lawrence River removes more Great Lakes water in two minutes than bottling plant does in a year

The Saint Lawrence River is part of a system of locks, canals, and channels through which water leaves the Great Lakes and enters the Atlantic Ocean; together these are called the "St. Lawrence Seaway."

While the amount of Great Lakes water the Saint Lawrence River dumps into the Atlantic Ocean can vary, it has been measured on average as roughly 110 million gallons per minute. That’s according to data provided by the United States Geological Survey.

That means, on average, the Saint Lawrence River Seaway will dump more water in one minute and 13 seconds (an estimated 133 million gallons) into the Atlantic Ocean than Nestle Waters will take from its well in Evart, Michigan, in an entire year (130 million gallons of water). That’s water leaving the Great Lakes watershed, which is of great concern to some politicians.

Some Democratic legislators in the Michigan House have introduced legislation that would make groundwater use by residents subject to a more restrictive “public trust” doctrine, rather than the more permissive “riparian rights” doctrine that prevails in the non-arid eastern half of the nation. The bills were portrayed in media reports as a response to Nestle’s bottled water business.

MLive’s Dec. 6 headline on the legislative push was: “Bills would ban Nestle from distributing Michigan water outside Great Lakes watershed”