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Bill would tax water bottling companies to create funds for water infrastructure

Theen Moy

A bill introduced in the state house would put a per-gallon tax on corporate water withdrawals in Michigan.

Lawmakers say it’s only fair to make water bottling companies pay for state resources, but some bottling companies are calling the bill ‘irresponsible.’

The tax would amount to five cents per gallon of water. At that rate,  lawmakers say some companies could pay as much as 20 million dollars annually.

Republican Representative Peter Lucido is a bill sponsor. He said companies taking other state resources, like gas and oil, have to pay royalties.

“Now why is that Nestle, or all of the manufacturers that come into our state and take our water, our most vital natural resource don’t pay anything except a permitting fee.”

Representative Lucido said money earned from the taxes will go to support water infrastructure.

“Imagine if you can how many different companies are taking water, I call it poaching water, and utilizing it to make a profit from our resource. Why not be our partner in this and why not help us in bringing back our infrastructure and our waters that we utilize right now.”

Representative Lucido said if water bottling companies really want to partner with the state, they’ll help support it with these taxes.

“Nestle is making millions of dollars. Yeah, they’re creating jobs, and you can continue to make your money. But when it comes to investment of zero in a product that you’re making profits from whey don’t you become a better partner and show us it’s going back to our infrastructure to help us live better lives.”

In a written statement representatives for Nestle Waters said their economic impact had already been made clear in a study released last month. Arlene Anderson-Vincent released a statement on behalf of the company:

"Water is a renewable resource when managed responsibly, and sustainable water management is at the core of Nestle Waters' operations. Michigan's abundant water supports jobs across numerous farms and industries in the state. It is important to know that all the water bottles in Michigan combined account for just a fraction of a percent (0.01%) of the total water used in the state, based on data from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. It would be inappropriate for the state to impose an excise tax on just one type of water user."

"Furthermore, Nestle Waters' contribution to the state's economy was made clear last month with the release of our Economic Impact Study, showing that we employ approximately 280 Michiganders and buy $51 million in goods and services from Michigan vendors, that our economic activity supports a total of 765 jobs throughout the state and creates $161 million in economic output."