Government To Crack Down on Water Dumpers

August 25, 2011  |  

By Charlotte Young

Exploiting the government’s food stamp program is nothing new, although the tricks may change every now and then. Fox News reports on a scam the federal government is recently attempting to bring to an end: water dumping. Just as its name implies, the scam involves dumping water, and the government says the scam is wasting taxpayer’s money.

The water dumping fraud is simple: food stamp recipients buy bottled water, dump it out, and then redeem the empty bottles for cash. As each bottle is only worth about five to 15 cent, it takes quite a few bottles to begin to make money.

Not only are people wasting water and taxpayer money, they are also taking advantage of the “bottle deposit” system,” all offenses that the Department of Agriculture is attempting to bring to an end.

“They’re clearly abusing the program, and that’s just not tolerable to us,” USDA spokeswoman Jean Daniel told Fox News.

She says the crime is concentrated in a “handful of states.” While Daniel also acknowledged that “water dumping” is not costing the nation billions of dollars, it is enough of a problem to prompt the government to punish those who commit the deed. She also relays that water isn’t the only beverage people dump; there have also been cases of milk and soda dumping as well.

One proposal to the problem is a new rule that would deem “water dumping” a trafficking offense. Violators would be expelled from the food stamp program. The USDA hopes to finalize the rule by the close of this year.

The problem lies in the difficulty in making such a rule to be made effective as it’s difficult to catch offenders. Officials must rely on store owners and citizens to report the crime. In Maine, one community resident recorded a couple dumping out water bottles outside of a grocery store.

Bangor Police Department’s Sgt. Paul Edwards reported that the couple dumped $6 worth of water, in an attempt to return the bottles for $2.40. Edwards also says that the “water dumping” scam has been around for a while. The police department has caught scammers that take the money from dumping water to buy a bottle of beer.

There are those that suggest that water shouldn’t even be covered by the food stamp program such as Kristin Urquiza, director of the anti-bottled water “Think Outside the Bottle” Campaign for Accountability. Instead of the government worrying over bottled water purchases, she believes they should use public funds to create changes in the tap water system that would make water free and available for everyone.

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