A representative of CCP Gotion, the Chinese battery maker looking to build a 3 million square foot facility in Green Charter Township with taxpayer-funded subsidies, said in a recent informational meeting that the company intends to draw 715,000 gallons of groundwater per day from a neighboring Big Rapids Charter Township well.
“I’ve heard dozens of speculation topics and scare tactics really designed to make people believe Gotion will destroy the environment. Nothing could be further from the truth,” company vice president Chuck Thelen said.
“Here’s one I like: We will pump all the water out of the water table. Suck the water, drying up the wells surrounding us. The truth is, our water consumption will be roughly 715,000 gallons per day. That is 50 percent of the pump capacity that’s at the current (two) wells on the Big Rapids Township property,” he said.
Thelen said he “would assume” such a draw “would be safe for the environment.”
The company’s declared draw would be about 497 gallons per minute (gpm).
CCP Gotion’s intended draw is significantly more than Nestle’s Ice Mountain bottled water plant just 15 miles away.
In 2018, Ice Mountain was drawing about 250 gpm, or 360,000 gallons per day, and sought to increase that amount, a move environmentalists fought.
"Even at 150 gpm, even when [Nestle was] pumping that, we’ve already seen the effects: there’s dry headwaters, there’s little feeder streams that are dried out," Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation President Peggy Case told Fox 17 at the time.
The controversy centered around Osceola Township’s opposition to Nestle’s activities, and what they said were visible differences in the water level.
"If you look at the culverts, they provide an historic landmark," township manager Tim Ladd said, according to Agence France-Presse.
"You don't have to be a geologist or a hydrologist to see those water levels," he added. "The water lake tables are lower today than what they were two years ago."
No environmental study has been completed to determine the impact of the additional draw for CCP Gotion.
In 2022, Democrat state Rep. Yousef Rabhi introduced a bill that would increase regulations on groundwater withdrawals for bottling purposes by expanding the Public Trust Doctrine.
“You needed to regulate and take a look at the withdrawal of the water simply for the impact itself on our natural resources. It shouldn't matter, the end users of the water, it shouldn't matter at all,” Rabhi said, Michigan Radio reported.
“This legislation is to say, look, it's not OK for a company to come to Michigan, pump out our groundwater. Put a price tag on it and make a profit. That's not OK.”
His bill died at the end of the year. It has yet to be reintroduced, the Michigan Legislature website showed.