Poland, Maine

Posted on April 7, 2017  Tagged with:
Apr 072017
 

Nestlé operates at least six wells and two bottling plants in Poland and Hollis, Maine, under the Poland Springs label, and is looking to build a third bottling plant and open up additional wells. When local residents heard about Nestlé’s plan to expand, they were concerned about the impact of the expansion.

  • Traffic in these rural communities would increase as hundreds of bottling trucks a day would travel through the area
  • Residents in Fryeburg are concerned that Nestlé will get priority access to the same water that feeds their local water utility
  • Others are concerned that Nestlé’s thirst for Maine’s water will be unstoppable, and that extraction of water from new well sites could have a negative impact on local ecosystems and wells.

One group of concerned citizens, H2O for Maine, launched an initiative to challenge Nestlé’s control of Maine’s water. H2O for Maine sought to approve a new state law via citizen’s ballot initiative that would have charged roughly a 20-cent tax on each gallon of water bottled by Nestlé in the state. The money would be used to set up a groundwater trust fund that would provide support to protecting groundwater resources in the state. The ballot initiative failed to get the 50,000 signatures required to get the measure on the 2006 ballot since a number of signatures were disqualified. During this time, between October 2004-October 2005, Nestlé gave over $218,000 in in-kind donations (they paid for public relations and legal services of local law firm, Pierce Atwood, and offered employee services as in-kind payment) to a PAC called Maine Citizens Against Taxing Water that opposed the ballot initiative. The group waged an aggressive media and public relations campaign (news stories, editorials, op-eds, ads, a website) to discredit H20 for Maine and to scare Mainers with stories of how the water tax would cost Maine jobs.

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