In response to concerns surrounding Nestlé Waters North America’s permit request that would allow the bottled water company to pump 1.152 million gallons of water per day from Ginnie Springs, Senator Janet Cruz (D-Tampa) has filed legislation that would require the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to monitor consumptive use permits for all bottled water companies, ensuring their compliance with state law. A second fee bill was also filed, which would assess a surcharge of 5 cents per gallon of water extracted for the production of bottled water. This surcharge would be deposited into the Florida Water Protection and Sustainability Program Trust Fund. This state trust fund has remained unfunded since 2009.
“Millions of taxpayer dollars are spent on recharging Florida’s aquifer due to the over-pumping of our state’s most precious natural resource – our water,” said Senator Cruz. “We cannot stand idly by while bottled water companies make substantial profits off this public resource without paying their fair share or doing much of anything to protect Florida’s springs and drinking water for future generations.”
Currently, companies pay a one-time fee of $115, which allows them to pump at least 270,000 gallons of water per day from Florida’s aquifer. Senator Cruz’s legislation is modeled off a proposal introduced by Congressman Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg), who as Governor asked that bottled water companies pay a 6 cents surcharge for each gallon pumped, a fraction of the profits they earn.
“I do not accept the argument from bottled water companies that this pumping has a ‘negligible’ impact on Florida’s spring system,” Senator Cruz stated. “Water volume is decreasing in Florida’s springs. If these companies want to pump Florida’s aquifer and take water that belongs to Floridians, they should contribute to the Water Protection and Sustainability Trust Fund and address the environmental consequences of their business practices.”