The Penny Price of Purity
Nestle, the parent company of Poland Springs, surely plans to visit Augusta this week, when the Maine legislature holds a public hearing on a proposed excise tax on bottled water. A bill sponsored by Rep. Hinck of Portland would impose a one-cent tax on the extraction of groundwater, surface water from springs, or other underground sources by any bottled water company that extracted more than 1,000,000 gallons in the previous calendar year. If approved, the tax would apply to water packaged for sale in containers of 5 gallons or less. In other words, the convenient containers of bottled water readily found in convenience stores, grocery stores, and soda machines would be subject to a penny tax. LD 237 would apply revenue from the tax to watershed and water quality protection, tax relief for Maine residents, and to the municipality where the water was extracted “in recognition that persons extracting large amounts of groundwater in Maine for sale benefit from the state and local groundwater protection activities.” A public hearing on the bill is scheduled for May 5, 2009.