A new bill introduced into the Michigan Legislature would impose a 5 cent per gallon fee on bottled water.
The bill's sponsor, Representative Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, says the fee would cost Nestle about $20 million per year, and could be used to fund badly needed updates and repairs to Michigan's infrastructure.
"If you look at how many of those bottles equal a gallon of water, it's less than a penny. Less than a penny, we're putting the imposition on that bottle," says Lucido.
Nestle currently draws 1.1 million gallons of water per day from four pumping locations in Michigan, which it sells under its Ice Mountain brand. The company pays a nominal licensing fee to pump the water, but does not pay directly for the water it uses.
The law would apply only to drinking water used by bottling companies. It would not affect water pumped and returned to the ground, such as for irrigating crops.
"Our infrastructure is messed up in the state," says Lucido. "It's got a lot of problems."
Lucido's home county, Macomb, has been hit especially hard by failures with its water infrastructure. It had a major water line, the interceptor, collapse this year, which was eventually repaired. But the the collapse resulted in a major sinkhole that damaged houses, and it also led to beach closings due to E. coli contamination.
"I've been told by the DEQ that we need $1.9 billion to separate sewers, sanitary and storm," says Lucido. "If we can clean up our infrastructures and make them sound again, then we won't have to worry about where we're going to get the money when there's a crisis."