Northern Wisconsin Alliance Builds Momentum Against Water Bottling Scheme

Imagine a day when the world’s largest freshwater lake, by surface area, becomes readily available to the water extraction and bottling industry.  A precedent setting artesian water bottling scheme is threatening the Town of Clover, nestled on the South Shore of Lake Superior. 

Kristle  Majchrzak (Ie Kristle KLR) is attempting to harvest, store, truck and bottle artesian water on two pieces of property owned by herself and her father, Bobbie Glau. If she is successful, Bayfield County will become the next target of water bottling companies world wide. 

The Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa is located 27 miles east of the proposed project.  The 1842 Treaty ceded the proposed project area, as well as outlined the rights of Indigenous communities to hunt, fish and gather, along with the privileges of usual occupancy.  Learn more here:

https://glifwc.org/TreatyRights/treaties.html

Red Cliff passed a resolution in strong opposition to this (and all similar) proposals.  Read the article here:  https://www.redcliff-nsn.gov/news_detail_T10_R58.php

Linda Nguyen, Red Cliff Environmental Director, outlines specific treaty rights concern in her letter submitted to the Bayfield Zoning and Planning Committee members on behalf of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa:

The well being of the Red Cliff community is dependent on our ability to practice our traditional ways and use our treaty retained rights. The wetlands and sloughs of this area are home to swimmers, crawlers, flyers, medicines, and foods. Wetlands provide a critical role in our ecosystems and are thought of as giligaanan (gardens) and medicine cabinets. In OJibwemowin (the Ojibwe language) mashkiig (bog), waabashkiki (swamp) and mashkiki (medicine) are all connected. This is because of the connectedness between the wetland ecosystem and the traditional activities of Ojibwe in these spaces. Wetlands are places were medicines grow and are harvested. To this day, wetlands are a place where Ojibwe go to exercise our treaty rights. The application does not provide sufficient information to adequately assess potential environmental and cultural impacts from the proposed project. To the best of our knowledge, if permitted this would be the first water bottling project within Bayfield County. This has the potential to set a dangerous precedent allowing the withdrawal of nibi from all our homes, native and non-native alike. The withdrawal of water from a watershed without sufficient analysis can lead to detrimental consequences within the watershed and neighboring environments. A precedent setting decision of such magnitude requires rigorous environmental and cultural analysis prior to issuing any approvals. Additionally, the submission of this application indicates a lack of cultural understanding on behalf of the applicant. Water is a sacred relative to us, A relative that brings life and medicine. To allow for the commodification of water is to allow the theft of our sacred relative. When asked about this application. Red Cliff’s Tribal Historic Preservation Officer shared that "our guiding principle is that we are protectors. Our universal truth is that we are protectors of water. We protect water coming out of the ground and Lake Superior, That water from the artesian well is part of Lake Superior. Water as a culture resource shouldn't be sold.”

Kristle KLR submitted a Conditional Use Permit to Bayfield County Zoning Department in February 25, 2019. 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Py98HhT4PH-6k2xev4K7Hbq28R6YaoC-/view?usp=sharing

Kristle KLR removed herself from the Town of Clover Planning Commission meeting, which was scheduled for April 6, 2021.  The Town of Clover recommended unanimously to the Bayfield County Zoning and Planning Commission that Kristle KLR’s CUP application be denied, citing evidence from the Town’s Comprehensive plan. 

On April 15th, 2021, the Bayfield Zoning and Planning Committee unanimously denied Kristle KLR’s conditional use permit, addressing significant land use concern, as well as unanimous dissatisfaction with the proposal from the Town of Clover Board. 

Kristle KLR promptly appealed this decision, and returned to Bayfield County Board of Adjustment and Appeals on July 29th  with Taft Law Firm (taftlaw.com) and Bob Safford (https://www.linkedin.com/in/bobsafford) on each hip.  Bob Safford is the founder and CEO of Boundary Waters Brands LLC, which then led to the development of Joia Sparkling, a natural soft drink and canned, ready to drink cocktail company worth over 6 million dollars.  (Editor’s note:  Bob Safford is a former executive with Kraft Foods and General Mills.)

Kristle, KLR legal team is arguing that the Town of Clover and Bayfield County has no jurisdiction over their proposal.  They are threatening to sue Bayfield County  for damages and legal fees.  The Bayfield County Board of Adjustment/Appeals has provided a deadline of August 9th for legal briefs to submitted for or against this ‘jurisdiction’ argument.  The BOA (Board of Adjustment) will meet August 16th in closed session to review submitted briefs, and again on August 26th for a “public hearing” and possible decision on the jurisdiction question.   

 

The pattern is familiar.  If Kristle, KLR paves the way in Bayfield County, there will be nothing to stop Nestle, Coca-Cola, Perrier and other water bottling corporations from moving in.  We know from example after example that these companies pray upon small, rural communities with little to no financial resources. 

 

Alliances of local citizens and communities in opposition to Kristle, KLR are strong.  They include native and non-native communities, as well as diverse socio-economic backgrounds.  They solidly cross all political backgrounds, to the amusement and pleasant surprise of all individuals who have seen this project for what it is. If you venture through the rural communities of Northern Wisconsin and Chequamegon Bay, you will see “Lake Superior Not For Sale” yard signs in just about every direction that you look. 

As Zoltan Grossman wrote so eloquently in his book “Unlikely Alliances:  Native Nations and White Communities Join to Defend Rural Lands”

Often when Native Nations assert their treaty rights and sovereignty, they are confronted with a backlash from their neighbors, who are fearful of losing control of the natural resources.  Yet, when both groups are faced with an outside threat to their common environment….these communities have unexpectedly joined together to protect the resources.” 

 

More information on this proposal, and how you can support, please visit: 

lakesuperiornotforsale.com

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Thanks to Family Farm Defenders for sharing this article with WNPJ (photo credit/ FFD story): 

Lake Superior is (Still) Not for Sale:  Northern Wisconsin Alliance Builds Momentum Against Water Bottling Scheme

By: Dana Churness, Town of Clover Resident

Printed in the Summer 2021 Family Farm Defenders Newsletter

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'Lake Superior Not For Sale' t-shirts available through FFD - just $20 per shirt.  https://familyfarmers.org/?p=1724

 

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Family Farm Defenders

Contact: John E. Peck, executive director
Address: P.O. Box 1772, Madison, WI 53701
Phone and FAX: 608-260-0900
E-Mail: familyfarmdefenders@yahoo.com
Website:  https://familyfarmers.org/