Nestlé pays just US$200 for the right to bottle water at a town near Flint, where residents are still unable to drink tap water after the supply was contaminated with lead, it has emerged.
The world’s largest food and drinks company produces up to 3.5 million bottles of water a day in a plant in Evart, Michigan, just 10 miles from Flint.
According to a report in The Guardian, the company will ask Michigan to pump 60 percent more water from the Evart increase – without any increase in the annual license fee.
The food giant, which owns brands such as San Pellegrino and Nescafe, reported sales of $21.1bn in the last financial year.
Residents and companies in the US do not have generally to pay for water by volume if they extract it themselves.
In 2014, Flint changed its primary water source to the Flint River, but did not implement corrosion-reducing phosphates, which allowed lead from old pipes to contaminate the water.
Two independent studies found lead poisoning was caused by ingestion of the public water supply, while 12 people have died after an outbreak of the water-borne Legionnaires’ disease.
In June, five Michigan officials were charged with involuntary manslaughter, for what the attorney general’s office described as “failure to notify and lack of action to stop the outbreak allowed the disease to continue its spread through Flint’s water system”.
Elsewhere in the country, 77 million Americans drink water that does not comply with regulations designed to prevent contamination, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.