What Happens When Nestle Enters a Rural Community (Statement from Terry Swier of Michigan)

Terry Swier of Michigan has experienced Nestle Waters of North America’s predatory approach to rural communities firsthand; the Swiss multinational threatened a SLAPP suit (an intimidation lawsuit) aimed at those opposing them (eerily similar to their attempt to subpoena the private financial records of local opposed to their McCloud contract).

From the Corporate Accountability Web site comes this statement from Ms. Swier – which should be required reading by the citizens of any town on the receiving end of Nestle’s attentions:

Statement from Terry Swier, Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, at the Nestle Waters North America Headquarters

I am Terry Swier, the President of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC), a grassroots environmental group with 2,000 members. I am here today to tell Nestlé that MCWC is committed to continue the fight to protect the waters of the Great Lakes Basin for our children and generations to come.

Our lives have changed over the past eight years, since Nestlé came to Michigan with plans to pump 720,000 gallons per day of spring water from a private hunting preserve, pipe it to its plant, bottle it, and ship it out of the Great Lakes Basin for its own profit. Nestlé’s pumping has lowered a stream, two lakes, and adjacent wetlands. Nestlé continues to pump at high rates during periods of lower rainfall and recharge. And this is the just the tip of Nestlé Ice Mountain:

• MCWC has taken Nestlé to court to prove that water belongs to the people. MCWC vs. Nestlé is heading back to the courts in July of this to ask for adjustment of Nestlé’s pumping levels to prevent further environmental impacts. Nestlé has challenged the right of citizen groups, like ours, to bring lawsuits to protect land that is not on our own property, even though ecological damage affects us all. This is not about just bottled water. This is a battle over who will own and control the water. To date, MCWC has spent more than a $1,000,000 in court costs and lawyer and environmental experts’ fees. Nestlé is determined to run us dry in more ways than one and no amount of talk about being a ‘good neighbor’ will change that fact.

• To compound matters, Nestlé hired a polling firm to call targeted residents and ask questions about my leadership qualities and character.

• The corporation has also sent private investigators to homes of people who had signed MCWC’s referendum asking intimidating questions about whether they understood what they were signing, most likely with the hope of invalidating the referendum.

• What’s more, Nestlé threatened a potential Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation; know as a SLAPP suit, against my son and others who spoke out publicly about the company’s bad practices.

• And the corporation has also leveraged policymakers, actively pursuing and being granted tax breaks, grants, and numerous favors in spite of its poor environmental record and its exportation of water from Michigan.

With Nestlé the story is always the same; the only difference is the address.