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Should a Water-Bottling Company Pay More for Water?

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A water-bottling plant opened in Sacramento in 2009, now some argue they should help by paying more for the water they use.

The draw for a company like Nestle to produce water here is clear, according to city leaders.

“We have great water. It’s top-quality, and it’s really cheap,” Sacramento City Councilmember Kevin McCarty said.

Back in 2009, construction on the Nestlé water bottling plant was temporarily shut down, thanks in part to McCarty, as environmentalists argued the permits were not good policy.

The company would be generating millions of plastic bottles, tapping a vital resource, mixing in their own minerals and marking it up more than 1000%, argued opponents.

“Bottled water is a rip-off,” shouted protestors during the 2009 Sacramento City Council meeting where the permits were debated.

Mayor Kevin Johnson, among those in favor of the plant and the forty jobs it would create, expressed frustration at the delays in opening.

There was a drought in 2009, too, but nothing compared to what California is facing today, and the plant ultimately opened.

Estimates made by Nestlé to the city’s utility department put water use between 78 and 116 million gallons a year, likely putting the plant on the list of top water consumers in town.

But Nestlé’s paying the same rate per gallon as you and I- as any water consumer taking a shower or pouring a glass in the City of Sacramento.

That’s something McCarty says needs to change. He’s looking into a tiered rate system for industries to pay more.

“We were already on this road for this terrible drought. It is an opportunity to produce some additional water revenues that could help pay for conservation,” McCarty said.

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