Midwest Environmental Advocates is a nonprofit environmental law center that works for healthy water, air, land and government for this generation and the next. We believe that every citizen has the potential to make a difference.

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Concerned Citizens of Newport

— Midwest Environmental Advocates worked with citizens in Adams Count, Wisconsin, to oppose the DNR's decision to let Perrier pump, bottle and export Wisconsin's water resources.

Case Summary

When Perrier announced that it wanted to take Wisconsin's spring water—at no charge—bottle it, and export it, citizens joined together in nearly unanimous opposition. The Friends of the Mecan in Waushara County and others refused to give away an ounce to Perrier.  So the company went to Big Springs in Adams County.

Local residents' vigorous opposition to Perrier in Big Springs was matched only by their disappointment with the DNR.  Twice, the people of New Haven voted against Perrier by overwhelming margins (74% to 26%), yet the company pursued a private agreement with the DNR in which the DNR gave conditional approval to Perrier to pump 500 gallons per minute, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  The DNR lacked the authority to enter into this agreement with Perrier, and by its questionable action failed to protect the public trust and failed to fully assess the potential environmental impacts of the water pumping and bottling plant.

On October 12, 2000, Midwest Environment Advocates, along with co-counsel, filed suit against the DNR on behalf of the Concerned Citizens of Newport.  This case was later consolidated with a similar suit brought by the HoChunk Nation.  This multicultural alliance between the Ho Chunk and the Concerned Citizens of Newport aimed to stop Perrier from bottling water in Adams County.

On January 30, 2001, the court ruled in favor of the concerned Citizens of Newport, holding that the DNR's decision that Perrier's wells would not harm the environment was unreasonable. The DNR failed to follow the legal requirements of Wisconsin's Environmental Policy Act. The court ordered the DNR to redo their environmental assessment.

In September 2002, Perrier announced it was leaving Wisconsin. The local community and environmentalists across the state applauded.