VICTORIA - Companies will pay little more than a toonie to bottle as much groundwater as can fill a 25-metre swimming pool when new fees take effect in British Columbia next year.
The levy is part of a rate schedule introduced by the Ministry of Environment, which until recently has not charged for the use of groundwater.
Household wells through B.C. will not require a licence or pay a fee, but the government will charge others between two cents and $2.25 for every one-million litres of groundwater, or enough to fill the pool.
The fees mean a household using municipal water may pay an extra loonie or toonie annually, and a farm growing hay in Kamloops may see their costs jump from $90 to $128 to irrigate a 16-hectare field.
But the highest rate has been set for water-bottling companies that will pay $2.25 per million litres.
The ministry says the fees are meant to cover the costs of the May 2014 Water Sustainability Act, which comes into force next year.
"British Columbia is blessed with an abundant water supply that our government is committed to preserving for future generations," says Environment Minister Mary Polak in a media release.
"The new fee structure will ensure fairness and affordability are cornerstones of our modernized water legislation."