While Nestle Waters/Poland Spring claims that Maine’s groundwater is so abundant, there simply won’t be issues with extraction – or that groundwater pumping couldn’t harm anyone’s well or aquifer – they seem to have forgotten what happened in 2002, when Maine residents struggled with severe water shortages, record-low groundwater levels, and dried-up private wells:
The year 2002 found Maine at the forefront of national news as its residents struggled for the fourth year in a row to adapt to a shortage in the water supply. A report by the U.S. Geological Survey said the drought “was the most severe drought on Maine rivers in more than 50 years.”
According to a New York Times article from March 15, 2002, whole neighborhoods on Sebago Lake were forced to flush their toilets only once a day, to forgo the use of their washing machines and use bottled water to brush their teeth.
Things were bad the state over.
According to a report by the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Environmental and Watershed Research at the University of Maine, “Maine experienced the worst drought in over 30 years during 2001 and 2002.”
Groundwater, lakes and streams went to record lows, and thousands of private wells went dry. Public water utilities were forced to tell customers to cut back on consumption and, looking ahead, seek out alternate water sources.
Yet Maine today is a water-rich state, said John Peckenham, the director of the Maine Water Resources Research Institute at the University of Maine.
“But we are vulnerable to changes in weather, like the drought of 1999-2001,” he said. “A lot of water suppliers were affected then, including the (Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, and Wells Water District).”
As for Nestle’s claims of monitoring to “protect” the resource, you only have to look to the Mecosta County (MI) for proof to the contrary, where residents had to take Nestle Waters to court to halt excessive pumping, which was damaging a wetlands and a lake.
In fact, when some residents complained that Nestle’s pumping was lowering the lakes so much their docks no longer reached the water, Nestle’s concern for the resource consisted of little more than offering to extend the docks.