There’s a lesson to be learned from B.C.’s water deal with Nestlé

Hand reaching for a Nestle Pure Life water bottle in refrigerator door.

Nestlé is the 27th largest company in the world and made $14 billion in profits last year – as well generating tons of plastic waste.

The British Columbia government looks like it’s run by a bunch of hayseeds because they’re letting Nestlé pump groundwater for a pittance.

When you consider that Saskatchewan charges 20 times more, Quebec 31 times more, and Nova really soaks the Swiss multinational by charging 62 times more than British Columbia, it makes the government in my home province look really shrewd compared to those bumpkins in British Columbia.

But, when you look at the price B.C. is charging, you realize that nobody is charging what water is worth. B.C.’s new Water Sustainability Act, which will come into effect in January, only calls for Nestlé to pay a mere $2.25 per million litres. (See link.)

B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak boasted how B.C. was charging Nestlé its “highest industrial rate” and wins the award for most fatuous remark by a politician. For pumping 265 million litres of water per year, Nestlé will pay the government $596.25. That’s not a typo. Let’s make a conservative estimate that Nestlé will charge 50 cents per litre (wholesale) for that water. That means this giant corporation is going to rake in $132.5 million for plundering B.C.’s groundwater resource.

By the way, British Columbia has a provincial debt of $64 billion. Nestlé, on the other hand, announced record profits of $14 billion in February.

Canadian politicians take note: we have the largest freshwater resource in the world and every province save Alberta has a significant debt problem. Make any company that wants to profit from this pay a much higher price, one that reflects the resale value of bottled water and takes into the account the environmental impact of putting water in millions of tiny plastic bottles.

In other words, make the slick bastards pay through the nose.

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