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Severance Tax for Bottled Water

March 2nd, 2009 by Mike Vasilinda

Millions of gallons of Florida water are piped from the ground, bottled and shipped to other states every day. The state gets nothing. But as Mike Vasilinda tells us, More than 20 companies that bottle Florida water have gotten the Governors attention.

Hear it Here: Severance Tax for Bottled Water

In the rural panhandle town of Lee, Florida, a Nestle Waters plant fills more than a hundred thousand bottles an hour. The companys two Florida plants use two and a half million gallons a day. The fee? Nothing but a one time one hundred fifty dollar permit.

But that could change. Environmentalists are applauding Governor Charlie Crists plan to charge Floridas two dozen water bottlers a six-cent a gallon severance fee.

Everything else that we take from the ground and sell, the people that are doing that have to pay a severance tax on it, Eric Draper with Florida Audubon said. So this is a severance tax on water. Were severing it from nature.

The plan would raise 50 million dollars next year. 70 million the year after. The state says 3.4 billion gallons a year are permitted to be taken from the water supply.

Six cents per gallon, which is several bottles, is really a little amount. And the money would also be going to a good cause as well, Doug Tobin with the Dept. Of Environmental protection said.

Some of the money will be used for alternative water projects, such as cleaning up waste water, so it can be used to irrigate golf courses.

Companies like Nestle think they are being singled out.

Bottled water companies only account for only about 2/100ths of a percent of Floridas groundwater use, and yet, theyre going to pay all of this tax, Nestle Waters spokesman Jim McClellan said.

In addition to the severance fee, lawmakers are also looking at eliminating the sales tax exemption on bottled water. That would raise 42 million a year.

Floridas lawmakers begin debating possible tax sources to fill a growing budget deficit tomorrow. Their annual session lasts until May first.

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