by Mike Corthell
I am a resident of Fryeburg, Maine. I have been keeping an open mind regarding the proposed agreement between Nestlé Waters and the Fryeburg Water Company, so I was disappointed that Nisha Swinton’s letter relied primarily on scare tactics and false statements to argue against the agreement.
The Fryeburg Water Company has been selling water to Poland Spring at a rate approved by the Maine Public Utilities Commission for more than 15 years. This has generated much-needed additional revenue that helps to offset operational and maintenance costs and protects against rate increases. As a ratepayer, I appreciate the lower rates we enjoy because of this contract. The question is whether there is enough water to support the new long term agreement. Fortunately, an independent hydro-geology company called Emery & Garrett has been working for the town for many years to study the amount of water that can be sustainably withdrawn.
Because of the Emery & Garrett studies, we know Swinton’s statement that a contract with Poland Spring will compromise Maine’s groundwater resources for future generations is without any factual or scientific basis at all. The sale of water by FWC to its customers, including Poland Spring, has resulted in absolutely no harm to the aquifer or the environment. This new agreement is tied to the Emery & Garrett report to ensure that the continued sale of spring water to Poland Spring will not jeopardize the ratepayers or the environment.
Furthermore, Swinton has grossly overstated – by more than 3 orders of magnitude – the amount of water that FWC has sold to Poland Spring, which is a matter of public record.
Swinton’s claim that Maine’s water laws are weak and outdated is likewise inaccurate. With recent changes to those laws and new reporting requirements, Maine has some of the toughest and most transparent water laws in the country.
Swinton’s statement about FWC’s indebtedness is grossly misleading. I learned that FWC borrows money for capital improvements like most companies. Repayment is included as part of our rates and has always been approved by the Maine Public Utilities Commission.
Fryeburg residents should know that the Fryeburg Water Company agreement is good for ratepayers and well within the limits of sustainable water use, even though a resident of Portland working for a national advocacy group would try to tell you otherwise.
Lastly, I would encourage my fellow Fryeburg citizens and all interested parties to step back for a moment and look at this issue factually. The facts tell the truth.