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Water Bottle Companies Stall Bill That would Tax for Use of Spring Water

January 21st, 2020 by Mike Vasilinda

A bill to charge water bottling companies for the water they take from Florida springs ran into a deluge of industry opposition Tuesday in the state Capitol.

The opposition appears to doom any chance of charging the industry for the water it takes virtually for free.

Nestle Waters pays $115 every 20 years for a consumptive use permit.

That permit allows it to take up to a million gallons a day from Florida springs.

State Senator Annette Taddeo wants to charge them 12.5 cents per gallon.

“These companies are making huge profits off our states water supply and not paying their fair share,” said Taddeo.

The millions raised each year would go to cleanup springs and replace septic tanks, but Nestle objected.

“If this twelve and a half cents is adopted, water production will decrease in Florida. It will be shifted to other states,” said Lane Stephens with Nestle Waters.

The Florida Springs Council told lawmakers that popular recreational venues like Itchtucknee River are already troubled.

“What we are seeing is that our waters area already significantly overdrawn today in many of our springs and river basins,” said Ryan Smart with the Florida Springs Council.

The tax would have died on a tie vote until its sponsored delayed the vote.

“Clearly there was a lot of pressure from the special interests that were present,” said Taddeo.

Environmentalists and springs advocates said the cost to water bottlers would have been minimal.

“For a 12 ounce bottle; 32 ounces in a quart, I’ll call it one and a half cents roughly,” said Dave Cullen with Seirra Club.

State Senator Janet Cruz has a slightly different bill.

She wants a five cent a gallon tax.
“As a state, we’re being robbed. We should be able to take that money and work on other water projects and other water issues,” said Cruz.

But it’s an election year and lawmakers are likely to do nothing.

Nestle told lawmakers it pays more than $7 million a year in property and other taxes, and if it left the state, its $52 million dollar annual payroll would also be gone.

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