BIG RAPIDS-Perrier, the Swiss water bottling company, is being accused of trying to "privatize pure water and disconnect it from our lakes and streams or the Great Lakes and sell it elsewhere without paying a dime to the state." These were the words of the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC) spokesman Terry Swier, as reported by the Evart Review.

What has Perrier done to deserve such sweeping condemnation? It is building a water plant eight miles south of Big Rapids, which the company plans to use for pumping 400 gallons of spring water per minute. This water will be sold under the brand name Ice Mountain.

The MCWC believes withdrawing subsurface water from Michigan for resale, as Perrier intends to do, runs contrary to the state's water and public trust law, and wants the Mecosta Circuit Court to agree. The MCWC and its plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in September in Mecosta County Circuit Court against Perrier and Pat and Nancy Bollman, the owners of the Sanctuary Springs property where the spring water may be withdrawn.

The case, to be heard in Mecosta County, is about the question of who owns Michigan's ground water. Perrier is not able to commercially pump water until the summer of 2002, when the case will be tried.

Perrier reportedly has received $9,594,284 in discriminatory tax incentives from the state of Michigan in order to locate here.