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.