Florida sells unlimited water-pumping rights in drought-stricken State Park to Nestle for $230

The State of Florida has given a Nestle bottling plant the right to pump as much water as it can get out Madison Blue Springs State Park, which is presently in drought conditions. The right lasts until 2018, and cost Nestle $230 in permit fees. Florida is presently in bitter dispute with its neighboring states over a region-wide water-shortage.

The company got a permit to take water belonging to Floridians – hundreds of millions of gallons a year from a spring in a state park – at no cost to Nestle.

No taxes. No fees. Just a $230 permit to pump water until 2018...

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.

Link (Thanks, Steven!)

See also: For Love of Water: infuriating and incredible documentary about world's water-crisis

(Image: The world of water, a Creative Commons Attribution licensed photo from Snap®'s Flickr stream)


  1. Sounds like something that would happen in a developing nation under the duress/behest of the IMF/WTO/WEF/OBBI (other big bad institution).

    I can’t believe that there are no kick backs involved here. Who are the local representatives, and who has donated to their campaigns recently?

  2. @ #1 musicman sez:
    “Sounds like something that would happen in a developing nation”[…]

    It is.

  3. How many bottles of water go into a 55 gallon container? Water costs more than oil and should be taxed that way.

  4. And Nestle has no responsiblity to the public to give back free water? Are they only going to sell it back? For $213 you can install a couple of lucious old-fashioned pumps and let people come to pump their own water!

    Soon we will be lining up at emergency MacDonald’s barbed-wired locations (sponsored by FEMA of course) for our rations of ‘enriched’ Coca Cola and mystery meat cakes.

  5. Sadly, it doesn’t really surprise me.
    Nestle has been pumping water from the Guelph and Wellington County (Ontario) region (which has been in a drought in recent years) and is making millions.

    They’re now able to pump 3.6 million litres/day out for bottled water (up from 2.6M/day in 2003), and applied to keep that for 5 years. Meanwhile, Guelph is a growing city and our water supply is strained already.

    Nestle paid $2000 for the application. The water is free to them. It’s ridiculous.

    (their presentation (PDF) )

  6. This is awful and ridiculous and wrong. We’re fuxored. I don’t believe it…

    bottled air, anyone?

  7. People think wars for oil are bad?

    Just wait until they are about water; we can all band together to grab the oil of other nations (Go USA!!! Woo-hoo!), but when it comes to running out of water, it’ll be Civil War II. Just ask Alabama, Georgia, and Florida or maybe California, Arizona, and Mexico (those are the only long-standing and worsening water conflicts I’ve studied extensively). No doubt there are others, and more are on the way.

  8. FL is a red state. This makes perfect sense. Screw the people, enrich businesses in cynical quid pro quos.

    That said…which FL legislators authorized this in exchange for money, drugs and gay sex orgies?

  9. the nice thing about water is you can always poison it if it looks like someone is going to take it away from you. “He who can destroy a thing, controls a thing”

  10. Did anyone happen to notice who was governor of Florida when this deal went down????

    Yep, ol’ Jeb Bush.

  11. The only upside I can think of: this would make a good plot device for a Carl Hiaasen novel. Sadly, a satisfying resolution is similarly limited to the realm of fiction.

  12. I guess nobody has heard of zephyrhills brand of water before? They pump out more than this everyday from a spring over near Tampa.

    You guys need to do some serious reading about Florida’s water issues before jumping the gun. Let’s just say it’s complicated and unique.

    You also may want to read up on an unrelated item: Cave Diving to understand the nature of the aquifer and the underground environment.

  13. Little plastic bottles of Florida swamp water going to $2 a piece. Time to boycott “big water”. Hey, let’s all drink beer instead!

  14. #1 MUSICMAN. I’m sure there are hidden kickbacks, like a brother or spouse of a state rep. works for Nestle, or something similar.

    I’m also willing to bet that Nestle eventually sues locals who tap the same aquifer in their wells.

  15. When you have the carrot of “economic development” to dangle in front of the authorities, you really don’t need illegal kickbacks and bribes. All Nestle had to do was let the state know they wouldn’t build the plant at all if their “flow allowance” was reduced.

    It’s worth noting that according to the article the permit to extract the water was granted a few years before Nestle was even involved (at least visibly), and that when it was granted the spring was entirely on private property. It’s just the fact that it’s a state park now that makes the extraction seem more obnoxious.

  16. Um, “The State of Florida” is an abstraction, and as such does not pass laws and resolutions. People do. People with names.

    Names, please. Anyone? Anyone in Florida know?

    Per bottled water, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you have good, clean tap water and you buy bottled water, you are a sucker, and you’re hurting the environment.

  17. Tielmain – Zephyrhills is owned by Nestle. Also, the Zephyrhills brand does not mean the water came from the Zephyrhills Spring. The water from this new source is going to be distributed under one or more of their Nestle brands. Distributed as “Spring Water” even though it did come from a well. On a Nestle bottle, in very tiny type, it will list the water source that particular bottle came from. There is no single source unique to a brand.

    Deer Park
    Ice Mountain
    Poland Spring
    Nestle Water
    Nestle Pure Life Water

    You’ll notice that the Nestle Waters web site, and any of their brand specific sites do not cite the actual geographical location of the water source. Merely a vague description of where water comes from. Analogous to being asked who your mother is and you describe a womb from an anatomy textbook. The company has received criticism for this several times, but all they did was add tiny text to particular bottles. There are articles going back in to the early nineties where a reporter will cover this, people will notice it, and five minutes later they’re drinking bottled water again.


    From a recent article in the St. Petersberg Times:
    “But for now, a shopper at a Publix in St. Petersburg can find gallon containers of Deer Park and Zephyrhills natural spring waters on the same shelf. The Deer Park brand can sell for 10 cents more than Zephyrhills. What the shopper can’t tell is that the Deer Park water was bottled in Pasco County, at the same plant and with the identical water as the Zephyrhills brand.”


  18. I would laugh out loud if you saw people treat public property like those blokes you see in films with shotguns on their front porch:

    ‘Now look here mister, this’s public property belonging to the good citizens of this US of A and we don’t want any of your kind comin round and privatising it, what with your big city machines and all. So best mosey alon now, that is if you don’t want two barrel Betsy here to have her say, cause she do get a mite ornery round strangers, you know.’

    What’s nestle’s slogan? ‘Pure life’ or something to that effect? i swear I don’t know whether to laugh or cry sometimes.

    [text entered wrong error, btw.]

  19. We have something similar, also Nestle, just outside Palm Springs. The reptilian overlords are thirsty.

  20. With the Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Springs….use water, they better put a stop to Nestle draining the aquafir. That water is needed for golf courses, damit! And swimming pools and palm trees and beautiful green lawns. Such is the folly of man.

    And what’s with the text error and wrong ID messages?

  21. Takuan, are you advocating _poisoning_ the water in a state park? You’ll cause a much bigger problem than any drought.

    If you read the article (and the comments, which correct some apparent inaccuracies) it seems the permit is for Nestle to pump water from the land their plant is on. Essentially, it’s the same permit you would have to get to utilize a well on your property.

  22. #15

    beer is the source of civilization. Uncertain water is made pure by fermentation, hence the importance of beer and wine when humans collect in large poop-in-the-watershed groups. Remember that when you next pass a brewery. Show some respect.

    Dear Heavyfriendcube: Shocked, I am shocked that you would suggest such egregious and irresponsible action as poisoning water in a state park. Shocked!
    One does not have to actually poison per se, merely raising the possibility is sufficient. Indeed, I foresee an expansion of Fatherland Security and the TSA as “Tap-Troopers are stationed at every hosepipe in the land.

  23. Takuan – The same logic can be used regarding bomb threats. You take them seriously because the consequences can be deadly if you don’t, which is why the penalties for making them are severe.

    Protesting corporate exploitation of water is one thing, destroying or threatening to destroy a natural resource as a form of protest is another. Where do we draw the line?

  24. And please, stop calling it Fatherland Security. Equating America to Nazi Germany is getting old.

  25. there there, you need not fret, The Dear Leader has matters well in hand – why even now, the brave, iron-jawed storm troopers of Motherland Security are combing every Everglade swamp, searching out all alien alligators that might be fouling the nations precious bodily -er, “countrily” fluids!

    I wonder what the threat of radioisotopes seeded into the water supply would do? Mass panic? Cats and dogs,living together, Armaggedon???

  26. This is what happens when valuable resources are *NOT* privatized. If Coca-Cola owned this water source, would it sell the water to Nestle for $230? Or if the Nature Conservancy owned this water source, would it sell the water to Nestle for $230? Probably not.

    Government-controlled resources will inevitably be pilfered and polluted (using taxpayers’ money). See also: Tragedy of the Commons.

  27. “This is what happens when valuable resources are *NOT* privatized. Government-controlled resources will inevitably be pilfered and polluted (using taxpayers’ money).”

    You’re kidding, right? You’re problem with this is that the water wasn’t sold for fair market value? Are you perhaps missing the point?

    Or are you just pulling my leg? Jeez, you really had me going for a while there!

  28. from what i understand they make the very best…waa ter. how can anyone in this day and age, on this shoal of time, be the least bit surprised about anything that happens in floraduh?

  29. The water isn’t being sold. The permit to pump water was being sold.

    And once again, if you all really think that Nestle only paid $230 for the property and the pumping rights (in other words, “for the water”), you’re nuts. The money just didn’t go to the state because the state didn’t own the land.

  30. I worked in Lee FL in the mid nineties and would like to add some context to the sorry story.

    Madison county is the home of mainly rural, poor and lightly educated people. At the time I was there only two of the five school board members had graduated high school.

    No I am not kidding. Any job connected to state or county government is considered a plum job, because it keeps you out of the meat packing plant or the poultry raising industry (where I worked). Any elected position is simply a popularity contest, where which church you belong to, and what family you come from vastly out weighs any other credentials.

    Like people in third world countries these people are easily exploited and it was just a matter of time before what few precious resources they possess were exploited as well.

    So I am not surprised at this news, but very disappointed. Thats the way of the world these days. It’s a damn shame.

  31. Long live Maud’Dib, Takuan!

    This deal is ridiculous. Potable water for the masses? Ahhh, naw, that’s not important. I take it that since Florida’s a swamp tap water is brackish and bad?

  32. #15

    “You’re kidding, right? You’re problem with this is that the water wasn’t sold for fair market value? Are you perhaps missing the point?”

    I was only partially kidding. My point wasn’t that the water *should* be sold at fair market value. My point was that, given the high value of the water (monetary value and use of the water), should have been a clue that the “seller” was getting a bad deal for $230 and should NOT have sold the water rights.

  33. While I think it is important for people to drill wells for water on their own property if possible, why is it legal for them to transport that water out of the watershed?

    Areas that have drought problems should limit water extraction to uses on that property or in the watershed. There would be no need to revoke the permit, and citizens could make the pumping stop this year instead of 2018.

    If I were making the rules, I would have an exception for water to be exported at desalination cost, as there are some areas with especially tasty water which I can see buying myself.

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