Friday, March 6, 2009

Florida governor seeks per-gallon water fee from bottlers

Gov. Charlie Crist is proposing a 6-cents-a-gallon state tax on water pumped from state resources and used for commercial water-bottling purposes. Florida has about two dozen water bottlers, including Nestle Waters of North America, Coca-Cola and Pepsi Co. The so-called "severance fee'' would be phased in, producing an estimated $56 million the first year, according to the governor's office. The money would be used to finance water projects like desalination plants and other alternatives to traditional water supplies. Jim McClellan, spokesman for Nestle's Florida operations, said bottled water has become essential when pipes are ruptured, there's a boil water order or a hurricane cuts off a community water source. "It makes no sense to take the healthiest packaged beverage on the market today, subject it to an onerous tax and not apply it to any other beverage," McClellan said. Miami Herald_ 3/2/09