Some residents of Flint, Michigan, were not happy when they found out last month Nestlé was going to pump more water out of a nearby spring and pay close to nothing—especially given that just a few days later, the state ended the city’s free water distribution program.
Well, maybe they’ll be a little more warm to the water company now: Flint Mayor Karen Weaver announced Thursday that Nestlé would begin donating water bottles to the city, which has been dealing with a water crisis for more than four years now. You see, government agencies completely failed the predominantly black city when it switched its water source back in 2014. Ever since, Flint has been on a mission to rid its water of lead, which leached from the pipes, by completely replacing its water system.
In the meantime, residents are hesitant to use any water from their faucets, even if the state deems it safe. Many still rely on bottled water, but without the state-run free distribution program, residents (who already face high poverty rates) would be forced to pull from their own pockets to cover the cost.
Apparently, Nestlé ain’t gonna’ let that happen: It’s partnering with the city to provide three semi-trucks of water, totaling 100,000 bottles, a week. The trucks will drop off the water at three help centers where residents can arrive to pick up their case.
“I want to thank Nestlé for their willingness to help the people of Flint,” said Weaver, in a press release.
This isn’t the first time the company’s donated. Immediately after the crisis, Nestlé donated 190,000 bottles. It then donated another 1.5 million in 2016.
It remains to be seen if this latest bout of charity will meet the city’s needs. One family might use around 22,000 bottles a year. And, last time I spoke to some Flint activists, they didn’t seem to keen on taking any free bottles from a company that’s pumping 400 gallons of water a minute for just $200 a year. That’s less than some people’s monthly water bills.
The company is well aware of the criticisms some community members have and, in an email to Earther, said it’s been working closely with the community “to understand their needs.”
“Nestlé Waters North America is always prepared to provide assistance where and when it’s needed,” wrote Jason Manshum, Ice Mountain community relations manager, in the email. “And we are proud to continue supporting the Flint community.”
According to Nestlé, the support will last until Labor Day.