EDITORIAL: Nestle is treading on troubled waters
Multi-billion dollar company pumps despite Flint’s water crisis
It is possible that, as a temporary or current resident of the City of New Brunswick, you have received a flyer labeled “Important Information About Your Drinking Water.” Although the notice informs its readers “there is nothing you need to do,” and emulates a tone that is calm and nonchalant, the bottom of the page indicates in asterisks: “People who drink water containing (the toxins) … may experience problems with their liver, kidneys or central nervous system, and may have an increased risk of getting cancer.” Frightening, right? But the notice alerts the city residents that action is being taken to fix these problems. Now imagine if no one was working to regulate these issues. This is the situation of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. And health and wellness company, Nestle, is adding insult to injury.
Most people know, and by now have pushed to the back of their minds, the fact that a new pipeline for Flint was designed in 2012. This pipeline was instated in order to cut costs for the city by switching to a cheaper water supplier. This backfired as years went on and the government and people of Flint realized that the switch had caused the presence of bacteria and high levels of lead. It is 2016, and Flint still does not have water that is safe to drink. In fact, the situation in Flint is so bad that some are afraid to bathe, as the water is causing citizens to break out in rashes and itching fits. Despite the horrible condition of Flint’s water crisis, Nestle is planning to increase its pumping of groundwater for sales, and the state government of Michigan has issued a draft approval. This plant is 120 miles away from Flint, where people are resorting to using baby wipes to cleanse their bodies.
The people of Flint, Michigan, whose cries of protest against their terrible water conditions are still being ignored, are paying more for their water than Nestle is. In fact, numbers show that Nestle isn’t paying anything extra for the 400 gallons a minute that they are selfishly pumping in Michigan, aside from a small permit fee. As a matter of fact, they are receiving $13 million in tax breaks in order to pump their water in the first place. What does this mean? This means that the residents of Flint, who are paying ridiculous amounts of money for water they cannot even safely use, have to resort to buying bottled water from a multi-billion dollar company that is pumping its water for next-to-nothing.
This is not the only time Nestle has insensitively barraged upon a state in crisis. Earlier this year, Nestle only paid about $600 to pump 36 million gallons of water in California in order to bottle and sell it. All the while, the citizens of California were advised to reduce their use of water due to the drastic drought the state was incurring. Basic human sentiments were ignored for the advantage of a big company.
Nestle also caused outrage when it sold and handed out baby formula to poor mothers in Africa, Asia and Latin America, which caused them to stop lactating and then forced them to continue buying their products.
There is nothing wrong with having an opportunist mindset, and some would say that Nestle being able to pump millions of gallons of water for free and sell it for profit is exactly what big businesses aspire for. But Nestle, and the government of Michigan as well, have crossed the line. They are treating water as a privilege rather than a right and exploiting people whose voices are ignored. And feeding off of the plight of the poor is not worth any profit.
The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 148th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.