STRUGGLING frozen vegetable producer Simplot suspects a looming multimillion-dollar water charge is an infrastructure money grab ahead of next year's state election.
The Simplot plant in Devonport, part of the US-based food giant J. R. Simplot Company, faces closure unless it can be made more profitable.
Simplot Australia managing director Terry O'Brien said yesterday he was cynical about the motives behind TasWater saying Simplot faced an increased water bill.
TasWater says trade waste treatment at the Devonport plant had to be upgraded or it faced increased charges.
Mr O'Brien said the plant already paid $800,000 a year but now faced having to pay an extra $2 million a year.
But he said TasWater had not explained why more money was needed - charges had not increased and nor had water quality requirements, and the Environment Protection Authority had not raised concerns.
Instead, he suspected TasWater was looking to fund infrastructure work across the state, and would rather take more money from big companies than hit households in the run-up to next year's state election.
He said TasWater had not been transparent, and he was visiting Tasmania next month and wanted a meeting with TasWater chief executive Mike Brewster to get answers.
TasWater said in a statement that it had met Simplot representatives.
``It remains committed to working through the issues associated with implementing fair and equitable trade waste pricing,'' the statement said.
``CEO Mike Brewster spoke with Mr O'Brien earlier this week and suggested a face-to-face meeting.
``He looks forward to that occurring.''
Mr O'Brien said he wanted to decide quickly if the Devonport plant could remain open, but increased water charges were not helpful.