Nestle Paying $230 To Suck Millions Of Gallons Of Water From Florida Until 2018

Despite fierce opposition from the local water management district staff, and concerns that it would deplete an already scarce natural resource from the people who live there, Nestle managed to secure a deal to pump nearly 1.5 million gallons of water a day into their Deer Park bottling plant for the next ten years. Nestle pays no other fees for the water beyond the $230 license—in fact, “Nestle has received two [tax] refunds totaling $196,000 and requested a third tax refund.” To make the matter even more offensive, the plant hasn’t delivered on its commitment to employ 300 workers, and it so far has failed to bring in the estimated $12 million-a-year to the local economy. The St. Petersburg Times has a rich, infuriating history of the Nestle fiasco and how they’ve conned Floridians out of their own water with the help of state politicians.

The state did much more than fight to get Nestle the right to pump as much water as possible from the spring.
 
As an added incentive for Nestle, the state approved a tax refund of up to $1.68-million for the Madison bottling operation. To date, Nestle has received two refunds totaling $196,000 and requested a third tax refund.
 
Nestle had promised to create 300 jobs over five years. The most people it has ever employed was about 250. The number dropped to 205 late last year, 46 of them from Georgia, which Nestle defends as common for a work force along a state line.
 
The state estimated that the plant, which has a payroll of $6.5-million, would bring some $12-million a year in direct economic benefit to the county and the region.
 
The state says its work on behalf of Nestle was well worth it because the county was dealing with the shuttering of its other major economic engine, the meat-processing plant.
 
“This project was very important to the economic health of this rural county as the community recently suffered the closure of a major private-sector employer with the resulting loss of several hundred jobs,” Page Bass, spokeswoman for the state Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development, said this month.
 
The Nestle plant opened in 2004. The Smithfield meat plant closed in 2006.

A Nestle spokesman gave what’s possibly the stupidest soundbite ever when it comes to corporate spin and depleting the local water supply:

McClellan, the Nestle spokesman, said bottled-water companies should not be singled out.
 
“Treat us like any other user,” he said. “People do not take bottled water and wash their dog. They do not wash their car with it. They drink it. That’s the highest and best use of water.”

“The profits on water are huge, but the raw material is free “ [St. Petersburg Times] (Thanks to Sandra!)
(Photo: “There Will Be Blood”)

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  1. ecwis says:

    Ha, I love the There Will Be Blood analogy.

  2. Veeber says:

    Um do the residents of Florida have to pay for the same water to drink and wash their dog? If so maybe Nestle should be giving the water away for free to the residents.

  3. 12-Inch Idongivafuck Sandwich says:

    This is bullshit, if for nothing else than the stupid South Florida Water Management people making us restrict our water usage saying we don’t have enough water…then they let Nestle take all of this water…

    /slightly bitter Floridian
    //Yes, the SFWM isn’t responsible for stuff not in South Florida, but its still bullshit…

  4. disavow says:

    Awesome caption pic!

  5. Wormfather says:

    “Treat us like any other user,” he said. “People do not take bottled water and wash their dog. They do not wash their car with it. They drink it. That’s the highest and best use of water.”

    Huh? I can only think of annalogies that include heinous felonies of a physical nature, so I’ll just say it again. Huh?

    Then again, this is Florida…if it’s stupid and it’s going to happen, it’ll probably happen in Florida (no offense to Floridians, but damn!)

  6. ecwis says:

    …they’ve conned Floridians out of their own water with the help of state politicians.

    That’s not a fair statement. Nestlé waters have a great amount of sources. When I buy Nestle waters, it usually comes from a very close source. In Michigan, it comes from the Grand Rapids area. In New Orleans, it comes from neighboring Texas.

    It’s not like they’re bottling water and shipping it to California. They’ll be supplying the state of Florida with this bottled water. The worst they’ll do is share it with neighboring states like Alabama or Georgia.

  7. MissTic says:

    I’m drinking a bottle of Deer Park water as I read this.

  8. Veeber says:

    @Wormfather: I just finished reading the article. Looks like in Florida they don’t charge for water per se. They charge you for processing the water so what Nestle is claiming is that they shouldn’t have to pay for the water because no one else is. Bunch of semantics.

  9. Bladefist says:

    Once again I ask why the government is involved w/ a corporation. Why the tax breaks, why all the promises? If there is a water emergency there, throttle nestle. It’s their fault for putting their plant in a place that can have a drought.

    More examples of why the government doesn’t do anything right.

  10. scbr says:

    I live in Florida and yes, it is stupid country. But still, this is simple and pure corruption.

    I have to pay every month for the tap water I use. In 2 or 3 months I have paid already $230. And I don’t use million of gallons. So, if we would treat Nestle as any other user, they should pay for what they use. As I do and as any Floridian does.

    Someone got a bribe, I am sure. But this is one of those cases really difficult for us “the consumers” to fight. Is not about a service I paid and I am not getting. Is about a corporation getting benefits that I don’t get under stupid excuses…my question is, what can WE do? How do we get that permit revised?

  11. The Porkchop Express says:

    @12-Inch Idongivafuck Sandwich: you’d be surprised how far up Florida they go.

    This is shit though, why do they get such a deal on Florida’s water? they aren’t even putting money back into the commmunity from what it sounds like.

  12. The Porkchop Express says:

    @ecwis: oh, for free? nope, they’re still making money off of our water. More than we would be paying the water department.

  13. Horrible

  14. JustAGuy2 says:

    It sounds like a lot, but 1.5 million gallons/day really isn’t that much in the scheme of things – Florida agriculture uses upwards of 4 BILLION gallons of water each day.

  15. William Mize says:

    @Wormfather: As a Floridian, trust me, we see a lot of this on a daily basis, and we are just as shocked and chagrined as you are.
    But unfortunately our politicians aren’t.
    All they want is higher taxes and new sports stadiums for crappy teams. And jet packs.

    Oh, wait. It’s me who wants the jet packs.

    The St Petersburg Times is a damn fine newspaper, though.

  16. Maurs says:

    If they wanted to be treated like any other user, wouldn’t that mean paying the same price for H2O?

  17. DeepFriar says:

    on the one hand, I could help destroy the planet and buy water bottles. on the other hand, tap water might have pharmies in it

    I’m gonna have to drink from the hose on this one. Spiders be damned!

  18. redragon104 says:

    Sounds like another free lunch.

    Not to advertise for David Cay Johnson, but if you want to know of other examples just like this you should read his book “Free Lunch: How the wealthiest Americans enrich themselves at the governments expense (and stick you with the bill)”.

  19. ironchef says:

    You can blame most of the waste on reverse osmosis.

    The filtering systems a lot of these water companies uses uses only a fraction of the water. The rest is dumped into the sewer.

    Reverse Osmosis systems are notorious for wasting water.

  20. SuffolkHouse says:

    Don’t be surprised. Florida politicians, namely the Republicans, are terrible representatives of the peoples’ interests. They support any corporation at the expense of wellness, well-being, and solvency.

  21. Buran says:

    My bf lives in the Boca Raton area. They have severe drought restrictions (which I don’t understand considering how green the lawns etc. are). I think the people need to demand answers and change. Now.

  22. Bladefist says:

    @SuffolkHouse: Yea, thats why they were trying to make nestle help the town by creating jobs, and revenue for the town. Nice work on analyzing the article.

    @JustAGuy2: I love when things are put into context. Too often its left out.

  23. ecwis says:

    @Lo-Pan: You don’t pay your water department for the resource of water. You pay them for the transportation and purification of it. Anyone can go to that spring and drink all the water they want for free. :-)

  24. youbastid says:

    @Bladefist-안녕: For the answer to your questions, look no further than your own icon.

  25. RandoX says:

    Drainage! Drainage, Eli, you boy. Drained dry. I’m so sorry. Here, if you have some water, and I have some water, and I have a straw. There it is, that’s a straw, you see? You watching? And my straw reaches acroooooooss the room, and starts to drink your water… I… drink… your… water! I drink it up!

  26. Zephyr7 says:

    What name(s) do they sell their bottled water under? I’ll make sure not to buy those anymore…

  27. QuiteSpunky says:

    At least we’re starting to seeing a rising awareness of the multitude of problems with bottled water: a greater risk for bacterial infections, huge amounts of resources drained from aquifers to bottle it, oil required to ship it, empty plastic bottles filling up our landfills, needless cost to consumers, all to bring you a product that is inferior and you can get for free from your own tap!

  28. fuzzymuffins says:

    offensive article in countless ways. abusive company, subserviant and/or naive local government…. just another average day in the pillage of the common man.

    bottled water is the greatest scam ever. and the masses are buying into that one too…..

    nestle has been on my “no-buy” list for a while. and there they shall continue to be.

  29. ecwis says:

    @Zephyr7: There local brands are Ice Mountain, Deer Park, Poland Spring, Arrowhead, Ozarka, Zephyrhills, and Calistoga. Their international brands are Acqua Panna, San Pellegrino, Perrier, Vittel, and Contrex.

  30. DeepFriar says:

    @SuffolkHouse: and in other sweeping generalizations, all white people are bad and all men cheat on their wives.

  31. The Porkchop Express says:

    @ecwis: yeah, if they can walk there it would truly be free. Look, they charge us and they charge us more than Nestle is paying, so…

    yeah Nestle gets a hand job at the drive in while we’re in the back seat getting nothing.

    not a grave injustice, but still nothing to help Florida while helping a big company.

  32. rdldr1 says:

    Florida’s tap water is fairly nasty. Have fun with that Nestle.

  33. ecwis says:

    @Lo-Pan: Yes the water department charges you for a service. Nestle is doing everything on their own so why should they have to pay the water department?

  34. AcidReign says:

        Reminds me of my last trip to Epcot, in Orlando. This ride:

    [disneyworld.disney.go.com]

        …was full of “corporations are evil, anti-environment things,” sponsored by Nestle.

        Water rules are complex. We’re in an exceptional draught area of Alabama, and wealthy homeowners have been digging wells to irrigate their lawns. And of course, those wells are eroding the water table. It’s usually illegal for most companies (outside of agriculture) to just pull significant amounts of water out of the ground. On the other hand, homeowners have pretty much had an unassailable right, dating back hundreds of years, to dig wells for personal use. I predict some interesting court battles in the coming years…

  35. snoop-blog says:

    i’m drinking a nestle pure life bottle of water right now. it’s the cheapest stuff in the stores. i’m pretty sure it’s because they are about expired (they put minerals in the water that go bad).

  36. Ktraze says:

    Solution: DRINK TAP!!
    I haven’t died from it yet.
    (Also drinking from the tap saves PLASTIC)

    REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE

  37. timmus says:

    I think it would be a good idea to expose the politicians who worked as shills on behalf of Nestle. Digging up names and posting them brings a lot more accountability than just ranting about a multinational corporation (who no one really expects to behave morally). The gatekeepers and guardians who acquiesced to this deal — i.e. the responsible Floridian policymakers and legislators — are the ones who should be crucified.

  38. wessev says:

    @ecwis: It would be like me building a power plant, that taps into Florida Power and Light’s grid, without paying for the energy Im taking,then I turn around and sell that electricity as it were my own product, while the rest of the public could have to suffer possible rolling black outs as a result of my actions. Hey I built the plant, the energy is there, why can’t I take it?

    Nestle certainly didn’t put the water into the ground, or the body of water they are pulling it from. Generally, these things are considered to be for the public’s use over not corporate profits and gains. You can’t just go taking as much water as you like, especially in such large amounts.

    To me, the real problem with this situation is it sounds like is a break down in the system if local or state governments can’t control the potentially devastating actions of a corporation.

  39. alfundo says:

    @snoop-blog: water goes bad?

  40. Techguy1138 says:

    The real problem is that Nestle was granted this usage based on the fact they were supposed to benefit the local economy.

    The politicians made a deal that exchanged water rights for jobs. Nestle is now taking advantage of the valuable water rights and is not returning to the community as they promised to.

    The deal may not have been bad but Nestle should have their water shut off until they hire 300 people. Even then it still might benefit the corporation more than the community but at least the original deal will be upheld.

    Corporations have it sweet. Imagine if you decided to just stop paying part of your taxes because they cost to much.

  41. The Porkchop Express says:

    @alfundo: everything goes bad if you let it sit long enough. Well not honey, it just gets hard but can be re-heated back to a liquid.

    But other than honey, everything goes bad.

  42. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    They have severe drought restrictions (which I don’t understand considering how green the lawns etc. are).

    @Buran: I think the restrictions were due to the drought in neighboring states reaching level four (it’s currently back down to a three). There was a fight over limiting the water flowing to Florida.

    People in Fanin county ran out of water but no one is even measuring how much water all the bottling companies are pumping out.

    @Zephyr7: I’ve seen bottled water with Nestle on the label. Not sure if they sell any without the company name on it. As long as you’re boycotting water bottling companies, wanna join me in avoiding Crystal Springs (see the Fanin link above for why)?

  43. 12-Inch Idongivafuck Sandwich says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: We were told the drought restrictions were because Lake Okeechobee was at an all time low (which is a whole other issue)…so who knows…

  44. Rusted says:

    Raleigh in North Carolina still has a drought but what do they do? They let a major soft drink company bottle the tap water and sell it. Dasani among others.

  45. ironchef says:

    time corporations deal with their all you can eat mentality with our natural resources.

  46. ecwis says:

    @wessev: That analogy doesn’t work. Water is a natural resource and electricity is not.

  47. EmmK says:

    Nestle is evil all over the place; this is just one small example. Are they in the running for Worst Company in America?

  48. MBZ321 says:

    Weird…I was certain that Deer Park and Poland Spring was bottled in the Northeast, and only sold in the Northeast. If I remember, Zephyrhills was the Southern (Florida anyhow) brand.

  49. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @MBZ321:

    Nope, I can get all 3 in Jacksonville, Fl.

  50. ecwis says:

    @MBZ321: That’s basically true. Poland Spring is bottled in the Northeast (usually Maine) but sometimes you can find out of market waters in chain stores. The only place I can find it (in Michigan and Louisiana) is Rite Aid and I assume it is because they have their own distribution network so Rite Aid probably buys Poland Spring for all their stores and then distributes it to each location.

    It’s also important to note that most of their brands started out as individual companies, which Nestlé ended up buying. One used to be able to get all the brands in one store but Nestlé does their best to keep their regional brand in it’s respective market, probably since it reduces transportation costs.

  51. Imhotep says:

    Please! Buy a filter and drink your clean Tap water for Free. Stop wasting money and resources on bottles of tap water that make corporations richer.

  52. lotsofchunks says:

    When will Americans do something about things themselves ?

    Can you just stop going to Walmart and drinking Nestle (most) bottled water.

    Why depend on your government when they only consistently take away your rights and only tax you more.

  53. LUV2CattleCall says:

    Six letters, listen closely: P-U-R F-T-W

  54. Bruce says:

    Well, if Nestle is not living up to their end of the bargain, there are really simple ways to get back at them. All it would take is for a few water crew guys to cut the water main leading into the Nestle plant and insert two new pipe flanges and a restricter plate into the pipe. Let’s say that the inlet pipe is a foot inside diameter, the restricter plate could have a 1 inch opening.

    They can have up to 1.5 million gallons a day, as long as it passes through that 1 inch hole in the restrictor plate. That’s like breathing through one of those hollow coffee stirrer straws.

    Nestle want’s to play hard ball?? Two can play at that game.

  55. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @12-Inch Idongivafuck Sandwich: No, you’re probably right. My answer was a guess.
    In fact, when you look at the 12 week animation on the Drought Monitor the drought around that lake was at level 3 as recently as a couple of weeks ago.

    @MBZ321: I’ve seen Deer Park in GA but the bottles say the water is bottled someplace in CT. Who knows whether or not that’s the truth.

    When will Americans do something about things themselves ?
    @lotsofchunks: When they decide to care about the problem.
    [flagpole.com]
    If people would stop buying the water instead of writing snarky letters maybe we wouldn’t have this problem.

  56. taka2k7 says:

    They never should have given the promises, but then the plant and jobs would have gone elsewhere (which might be a good thing).

    The ‘government’ is incompentent only because we let it be. There is no accountability for the most part.

    Still, just because the corporation CAN get away with something like this, doesn’t mean they should.