Perrier Backs Away From Mecan Spring Pumping Proposal
Company's Dealings in Other States Makes Trout Unlimited Wary of "Perrier's Plan B"
2/7/2000 -- --
Resistance from Wisconsin's anglers, homeowners and environmentalists caused Perrier to rethink its proposal to install a high-capacity pump in Wisconsin's prized Mecan Springs, but local Trout Unlimited members fear the bottled water company's "Plan B," might pose some of the very same risks to the Mecan aquifer and watershed.
"Perrier got part of our important message and withdrew its original proposal," said John Welter, Wisconsin TU Chairman. "But the rest of the message is that taking significant amounts of water from wells in most of the Mecan's tributaries has the same potential to harm the watershed."
"While Perrier's decision to back away from using the Mecan Spring Wildlife Area as its primary water source appears to be a victory for the state, a close second glance reveals that the company is already exploring alternative options to withdraw water from the Mecan watershed and aquifer," continued Welter. "Wisconsin offers numerous other sites in that would meet Perrier's bottling requirements and won't potentially endanger coldwater trout streams. Yet, its troubles us, that even though the community has clearly spoken out against the Perrier proposal, the company persists."
"The irony is now that Perrier has changed its proposal to drill wells on private lands, it is subject to less stringent oversight," said Dan Colligan of Friends of the Mecan. "Water taken from the aquifer, regardless from what point, can still impact the precious resources of the Mecan."
"Perrier's recent announcement is a step in the right direction," stated Todd Ambs of the Wisconsin River Alliance. "Now we need an Environmental Impact Statement. We need proof their new proposal doesn't amount to a plan to 'can' the Mecan."
In a letter to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary George Meyer Wisconsin TU and the River Alliance of Wisconsin warned of a 'red flag' Perrier case heard by the Texas Supreme Court in which the company was sued by neighboring land owners for the failure of their wells. The court accepted Perrier's argument that, under Texas law, it was free to pump as much water as it wanted to. Welter cited the need for the state to pay more attention to the history of Perrier's operations in states such as Pennsylvania, Florida and Maine.
The groups also called on the state to designate Perrier's proposal as a "major action" affecting the environment. A "major action" designation would require the state to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and public hearings
Welter, critical of the lack of information Perrier has shared with Wisconsin residents on its water withdrawal intentions, insisted that the only way to guarentee the public get the facts is through a comprehensive EIS and hydrological study. Welter also cautioned Secretary Meyer of evaluating Perrier's "Plan B" in a piecemeal fashion, "Anything less than a full Environmental Impact Statement threatens to overlook important details and relationships that threaten our Mecan watershed"
For a full copy of the TU letter sent to Wisconsin DNR Secretary Meyer contact Maggie Lockwood at (703) 284-9425 or John Welter at work: (715) 831-9565 Home: (715) 833-7028
Community Groups Unite To Organize Mecan Campaign!
TU, Wisconsin River Alliance, Friends of the Mecan strongly encourage Wisconsin residents to attend the 7p.m. Monday, February 14th meeting at Coloma Grade School, 210 North Linden Street to learn more about Perrier's "Plan B" for the Mecan watershed. The three groups have pulled together resources to purchase an ad campaign in local and regional papers calling on residents to insist on an Environmental Impact Statement. The organizers will commence a letter writing campaign to Wisconsin DNR Secretary Meyer and turn out residents to the February 14th Coloma meetings.