To the editor: The Fryeburg Water Company and the Nestlé Corporation, owner of the Poland Springs Bottling Company, have proposed an agreement to extract large amounts of groundwater from Fryeburg over the next 45 years. No municipal water supplier in the United States is known to have such a long-term contract.
The proposed agreement acknowledges that there could be severe water shortages. Even when these shortages are aggravated by Nestlé’s heavy water withdrawals, the agreement requires the Fryeburg Water Company to curtail or even stop supplying water to all its local business customers as well as Nestle. While Nestlé can easily extract water from its other worldwide sources, where will Fryeburg’s businesses get their water? This deal grossly favors Nestlé, which does not reside in Fryeburg, over the local businesses the Fryeburg Water Company is supposed to serve.
Ground water studies done years ago don’t answer the question of whether the aquifer underlying Fryeburg can handle multiple generations’ worth of large-scale water removal. There is no way to know whether climate and rainfall between now and 2058 will support large-scale water exports without also lowering stream and pond levels and leaving wells and farm fields dry. Why accept these risks for the sake of a super-long contract that benefi ts Nestlé at local citizens’ expense?
The Fryeburg Water Company admits it is deeply in debt. The public deserves to know if this deal with Nestlé, by far the more powerful party, will help the Fryeburg Water Company resolve its problems or will jeopardize its ability to supply quality drinking water for the long run to its local customers.
Due to these and other concerns expressed by many in Fryeburg and the surrounding towns that depend on the same aquifer for their water, the Maine Public Utilities Commission is holding a public hearing Thursday, March 7 at 6 p.m. at the American Legion Hall. The Hall is located on Bradley St. off Main St. (Rt. 302) near Fryeburg Academy. The Commission wants to gauge public concern. We urge all citizens from the area to come, ask questions and especially share their views.
On behalf of Community Water Justice of Fryeburg, Nickie Sekera, Fryeburg Doug Bowen, Porter, Maine