Tax on Bottled Water

By: Troy Kinsey Email
By: Troy Kinsey Email

Tallahassee, FL - Some lawmakers in Florida want to add a surcharge onto every bottle of water consumers buy.

Legislation filed in Tallahassee would tack a 6 percent surcharge onto every bottle of water purchased. The goal of the surcharge is to protect Florida's water supply.

Most water purchased in Florida is pulled directly from local springs, which environmentalists said crushes the long-term health of the surrounding ecosystems.

Spring water is key to maintaining the levels of rivers, lakes and streams. When its extracted, Julie Wraithmell, a spokeswoman with Audubon of Florida, said everyone suffers.

The money raised by the surcharge would go directly toward restoring the springs areas, which Wraithmell said is only fair.

"There isn't any kind of a severance fee or a charge per gallon extracted, so how do we mitigate for the impacts on our state from this really growing use?" she said.

Lawmakers have already tried to enact legislation for this purpose, by slapping water companies with user fees, but the proposed legislation went nowhere.

So environmentalists like Charles Pattison said the next best option is to charge the consumer.

"Those are people that, typically, a few pennies aren't going to make any difference one way or the other," said Pattison, who is with 1000 Friends of Florida. "I think most people would be willing to protect the environment through that type of relationship."

Not everyone is enthusiastic about the proposal. Waris Obitayo is a college student who is on a tight budget, but he said one luxury he refuses to forego is bottled water.

"Water should be affordable to everybody, so i don't think the tax should come in," he said.

However, he said that even if it passes, he'll continue to buy bottled water.

"Bottled water is still very important, so I think i'll take the deal like that," Obitayo said.

The surcharge would only apply to bottles containing less than a gallon of water.

The idea is likely to be killed, though, especially because Governor-elect Rick Scott, along with leaders in the state legislature, have vowed not to raise taxes, and many of them say a surcharge is really a tax.

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