Democratic Sen. Annette Taddeo returned to a proposal (SB 652) that would tax bottled water companies 12.5 cents per gallon should they tap into Florida’s springs.
Taddeo introduced a similar measure last year as a way for the state to collect revenue when corporations seek to bottle up the state’s resources. Democratic Rep. Joe Casello is behind the House version (HB 1237) this Session, replacing last year’s sponsor, Rep. Matt Willhite.
The money collected through the tax would be placed in a trust fund to help support water quality projects throughout the state, such as promoting septic-to-sewer transitions.
“It is unconscionable that certain corporate water bottling companies exploit our state water, without paying their fair share, while all other companies who bottle water through municipalities pay for their water,” Taddeo argued.
“This is a corporate welfare loophole that has allowed these companies to exploit our precious water supply. This bill will help us bring to an end this abusive practice. At a time when we desperately need funding for septic-to-sewer projects, we should not be giving bottling companies our springs water for free.”
Last year’s legislation stalled out during the committee process, as bottled water makers pushed back against the measure. Earlier this week, the state approved Nestle’s proposal to continue tapping into the Ginnie Springs water supply — at a rate of 1 million gallons a day.
Nestle produces the Zephyrhills and Pure Life bottled water brands. The company was among those attempting to torpedo the tax last Session, arguing it would be too costly. But Casello countered that argument in a statement Thursday.
“Nestle made $7.8 billion in global sales in 2019 just from bottled water,” Casello said. “We cannot stand by while the industry drains our State and profits off resources that belong to all Floridians, for the meager price of a $115 permit fee.”
Taddeo also cried foul last January, when the bill died.
“All I was doing was just putting it in the same level as all the other natural resources that belong to Florida,” Taddeo said. “We’re just giving our water away, which is crazy.”