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September 22nd, 2018

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Nestlé & Low-Ball Provincial Water Extraction Fees

Under the new BC Water Sustainability Act the province of BC will charge Nestlé $2.25 per million litres of water extracted from a BC aquifer for its water bottling operations at Hope, BC. This disproportionate fee was the subject of discussion on BC Almanac.

Host, Gloria Macarenko, started the discussion by pointing out that this rate amounts to Nestlé paying less than $600 to the province for water extraction from the aquifer at Hope.

Although most agree that charging for ground water extraction is a step in the right direction, such a paltry royalty fee for water extraction won’t come close to covering the associated provincial costs of administering the new Water Sustainability Act. Consequently, at this rate BC taxpayers will be subsidizing the administration of the new Act toward which water bottling plants contribute $2.25 per MILLION litres extracted. Once bottled, bottling companies sell our water back to us at about $2.25 for ONE litre. An excellent rate of return for a company like Nestlé.

Hope Aquifer is a Provincial Resource

The mayor of Hope BC, Wilfried Vicktor, was on the show praising Nestlé for being a good corporate citizen which contributes employment and other benefits to his community. His perspective fails to account for the fact that the aquifer at Hope is a provincial resource fed by water sources from far beyond his community. The provincial deal with Nestlé at Hope sets a financial precedent for other points of ground water extraction around BC.

Chinese Demand for BC Water

Another huge factor is China’s surging demand for water from BC. For example, a bottling plant located in Bridesville, BC has made a deal to supply bottled water wholesale to China. Consequently, their volume of groundwater extraction is purported to increase this year from 1.4 million litres to 42 million litres. This company is located in an agricultural area of BC. This brings up a most contentious issue: domestic demand competing with supplying offshore interests. There are undoubtedly many and increasing scenarios like this around BC responding to the huge Chinese demand for water.

Water Extraction Fees Charged by Other Provinces

The following rates were mentioned on the broadcast:
(per million litres of water extracted)
Alberta $0 – license fee only
Saskatchewan $40
Quebec $70
Nova Scotia $140

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