CHICAGO — The bottled water loophole in the Great Lakes Compact — an opening that initially worried lawyers, conservationists and concerned citizens — is inspiring corporations like Nestle to respond.
“How do you define a product?” Nestle spokesperson Brian Flaherty asked the Washington Post. “Water goes into beer in Wisconsin and radiators in Detroit. Why would you have a separate standard for bottled water versus soda?”
The Post confirms that while Nestle extracts the most water from Michigan, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola follow closely behind. In fact, Pepsi’s Aquafina and Coca-Cola’s Dasani brands source directly from Detroit’s municipal supply. Both corporations have plants in Quebec and Ontario.
The language of the legislation allows for bottled water to be exported in 5.7 gallon containers out of the Great Lakes Basin. Nestle already pumps thousands of gallons into its Michigan factory every day.
Many critics of the Compact — such as Representative Bart Stupak (MI, D-1) — fear that such corporations will take advantage of the weakness to exploit the very resource the Compact means to protect.
Questions regarding international trade policy also abound. Anu Bradford, a University of Chicago law professor, told the Washington Post, “Under the WTO and NAFTA, there is no obligation for a state to extract its natural resources. The difference comes when it makes the decision to allow an entity to commercialize it and they do commercialize it. Then it is a product and you can’t ban the export.”
Whether water has greater value or potential for profit if it is altered to make soda or juice is becoming part of the debate around what to do about the Compact’s now-glaring loophole.
Source: The Washington Post