Nestle/Poland Spring aren’t having it all their way in Maine – they were run out of Shapleigh and Newfield by a citizen uprising, and just removed the test wells they drilled without the knowledgege of the local citizenry:
After an extended grassroots campaign, Nestlé is finally removing 23 bottled water test wells from a wildlife management area in Shapleigh and Newfield, ME.
Shelly Gobielle and her neighbors first discovered the wells a year and a half ago, three years after Nestlé’s under-the-radar installation. Upon realizing that Shapleigh was likely one of the next site for Nestlé’s water extraction for its Poland Spring brand bottled water, residents approached town officials with their concerns about what bottling would do to the local ecosystem. Their words fell on deaf ears, as Nestlé had already lobbied for and secured the support of the Shapleigh town officials.
The only option was for residents to take matters into their own hands, forming the group Protect Our Water and Wildlife Resources (POWWR). Members hit the streets and went door to door educating the public and signing enough petitions to call a town meeting, held four months ago.
Residents in both Shapleigh and the neighboring town of Newfield passed ordinances that asserted the right of townspeople to control their own water and to prohibit commercial water extraction, a reality that can at last be assured.
Secret negotiations are a standard part of the Nestle approach – time and time again, they’ve quietly negotiated deals with officials they approached quietly well in advance. McCloud, the Sterling/Clinton mess, Shapleigh & Newfield… the list goes on.
Bye Nestle. I don’t think the town’s going to miss you or your legal bludgeon.
via Maine Community Rebuffs Nestlé Over Water Rights | The Water Conservation Source.
Rights-based water ordinances have yet to face a court challenge (and we’re expecting one at some point), but their “give the right to decide back to the people” message is certainly resonating with small town residents.
It appears that the town of Wells is set to follow the example of Shapleigh and Newfield, both of whom passed water-extraction ordinances which were aimed largely at Nestle/Poland Spring’s water extraction activities.
Maine town eyes ban on water extraction
Supporters of a measure to prevent companies such as Poland Spring from extracting groundwater in Wells are presenting a ballot proposal to the town’s selectmen.
Organizers say they have gathered signatures from more than 800 Wells residents in support of putting the measure on the June 9 ballot.
In many small towns, elected officials have not done a good job representing the interests of townsfolk (the original Nestle contract in McCloud is a prime example), and residents simply want the right to decide for themselves.
This is not good news for Nestle/Poland Spring, who cannot be happy to see rights-based water ordinances popping up like spring daffodils.
A second Maine town has enacted a rights-based water extraction ordinance (Shapleigh was the first); now Newfield passed a ban on a vote of 228 to 146.
From WCSH6.com – Newfield Passes Ban On Large Scale Water Extraction
NEWFIELD (NEWS CENTER) — The town of Newfield is now the second in Maine to ban large-scale water extraction.
Saturday’s vote was 228 in favor of the new ordinance and 146 against. The vote is a reaction to interest from Poland Spring Water and its parent company, Nestle, in pumping water from an aquifer shared by Newfield and Shapleigh.
Shapleigh voted for the same ban on water extraction two weeks ago. However, there is some concern that that ordinance could be overturned in court. As a result, townspeople voted on a different ordinance at town meeting Saturday that would lay out what a water company would have to do to be able to extract water from the aquifer.
While Shapleigh’s Selectmen are making noises about the legality of the Shapleigh ordinance, the real questions revolve around Nestle/Poland Spring’s willingness to step into yet another damaging legal fight (one wonders what their five suits against Fryeburg have cost their already-tarnished reputation).