Six months after Ellison’s reporting, on a chilly evening in April, more than 500 people filed into a large auditorium at Ferris State University near the Ice Mountain plant. They’d come from all across Michigan to take part in the DEQ’s public hearing on Nestlé, but they had more on their mind than Evart. “We took a bus here from Flint because we’re tired of bottled water, tired of Nestlé, tired of them making a profit off of our disaster,” said Bernadel Jefferson, a pastor and activist who arrived with a dozen other protesters.
Case, echoing her comments at the Ferris State hearing, says she’ll keep fighting. “It has to do with the privatization of water and taking the people’s water and making a profit from it, an exorbitant profit, a ridiculous profit, when there are people with no water at all, or people with poisoned water,” she says. “We don’t believe water should be owned by anybody. It’s a public right.” Depending on how Michigan rules on Nestlé’s bid to pump more water in Evart, Case’s group may take legal action. How it will pay to challenge the Swiss conglomerate a second time, she doesn’t know. “We might,” she says, “end up back in bake sales.”
Privatization of water has been going on a long time. I guess, in many ways, it’s not so much different from industrial farming and the owning of “food” creation and distribution. You’ll just die quicker from lack of water than you will lack of food. The fact that citizens allow the ownership of both as being in the hands of large corporations versus democratically owned businesses (See Richard D Wolff) is sad but no mystery.