News Local

New water-taking fee will add big costs for companies

By Valerie MacDonald, Northumberland Today

Ice River Green has bottles made from 100% recycled, post-consumer green bottles like ginger ale, 7Up and Perrier.
SUBMITTED PHOTO

Ice River Green has bottles made from 100% recycled, post-consumer green bottles like ginger ale, 7Up and Perrier. SUBMITTED PHOTO

A letter-writing campaign to stop the whopping 13,500% increase in water bottle companies’ provincial water-taking fees started with workers worried about the impact on their jobs, says Grafton’s Ice River Springs co-owner Sandy Gott.

Describing her company as the largest water-bottling company in Canada, with three operations in Ontario including the plant near Grafton, Gott told Northumberland Today in an interview that the provincial government is unfairly targeting companies such as hers by increasing the fee for the taking of every million litres of groundwater from $3.71 to $503.71.

It is set to take place Aug. 1.

For her company’s plants in Ontario, that amounts to an increase in costs of a half a million dollars, she said in a telephone interview.

Electricity costs are already the highest in North America, so add to that the cost of water-taking becoming the highest in North America and Gott said “it’s becoming very challenging to do business in Ontario.”

In a media release and e-mail interview, the executive director of the Canadian Bottled Water Association Elizabeth Griswold stated that “the entire bottle water industry in Ontario represents only 0.2% cent of all the water takers in the province.

“My question to the government is what about the other 99.8%? To properly sustain the resource, everybody has to be involved.”

Ice River Springs is assisting its 350 Ontario employees (out of abut 2,000 in the province working in the industry) to submit electronic letters to the government, as well as gathering written ones to pass along, Gott said.

In addition to bottling facilities, Gott said her company has a recycling operation it operates for plastic bottles so that their water is provided to consumers in 100% recycled containers.

She also said she doesn’t understand why the Ontario government permits soft drink companies to use water without water-taking permits when health organizations have been saying water is a healthier alternative at a time when obesity and diabetes are on the rise.

Attempts to reach the water-bottling company north of Baltimore for comment were unsuccessful by press time. A notice on the front door states an ownership change is underway.

vmacdonald@postmedia.com