Tag Archives: water ordinance

Letter to the Editor Questions Nestle’s Role in Local Water Ordinance

While Nestle’s support at the grassroots level of most towns continues to fall, it’s clear they’re still playing the political game far better than the citizens who oppose them, as evidenced by this letter to the editor about Nestle’s gold-plated access to the in-process Wells water ordinance:

Water in the News » When it comes to water are your interests being heard? (letter)

The ordinance was turned down leaving the town to now rely on a regulatory ordinance, an ordinance that will require anyone who wants to obtain more than 5,000 gallons of water on any given day to apply for a permit from the town. At the Town Meeting on the 16th, the selectmen promised that a better ordinance would be written by the people of Wells and not by outside interests. Ron Collins recently said to the editor, “the final ordinance will be ours and NOT language dictated to us by some outside group whose agenda is nothing more than to take away our rights as U.S. citizens.”

Well, I have to say I was disappointed to discover that at the May 27 Ordinance Review Committee meeting a representative and lawyer for Nestlé were present. They were provided with a copy of the regulatory ordinance before the meeting and were allowed to and encouraged by the town attorney to make provisions that they saw fit. I am asking you to consider who’s language this new ordinance is being written? Is this the voice of the town? Last time I checked Nestlé is in fact an outside group with an agenda, so why then are they writing the rules for our town. Are we to regulate them, or are they regulating us? Can we trust that this new legal document will actually control water extraction or is it merely an illusion so the town feels protected?

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Letter to the Editor About Nestle/Poland Spring Water Extraction in Wells

Letters to the Editor | SeacoastOnline.com

Nestlé, leave our water alone

To the Editor:

I write to express my concerns over legislation to allow large-scale water extraction from the Town of Wells. I and those in my neighborhood rely on our private wells for water. In the past two years I have witnessed three wells within shouting distance of my home fail, requiring well replacement, no doubt at considerable cost to the property owners.

In addition, I have learned that in the not-to-distant past, the town had requested citizens to refrain from sprinkler use due to water shortage in a dry spell. Does this sound as if we of Wells should be willing to sell our water? I think not.

It is well known that Nestlé/Poland Spring desires to contract for the right to withdraw up to 400,000 gallons of water per day for 30 years with the option to extend the contract for an additional 20 years. Does selling water seem like sound policy for our town’s future? I think not.

Recently we have had a major hotel and The Summer Village built downtown as well as an ever-increasing number of private homes being built. Should our water be reserved for our citizens present and future or for the profit of an international corporation?

My concern is the viability of my personal water source as well as that of those many, many residents who rely on well-source water. I believe that the majority of citizens of Wells are against the sale of their water and call upon those who share my concerns to let their view be known to the Wells Board of Selectmen.

Richard Fowler

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Open Letter to Shapleigh Selectmen: Citizens Want Rights-Based Water Ordinance

A recurring theme among those fighting Nestle’s water extraction is a non-responsive local media and elected officials who act is if the desires of citizens are something to be ignored.

This has become immediately apparent in the case of Shapleigh, where citizens voted to enact a moratorium and to create a water-extraction ordinance. Unfortunately, Shapleigh’s Board of Selectman immediately turned to a consultant to write the ordinance – one referred to them by Nestle.

The resulting ordinance was predictably tilted towards extraction, and Protect Our Water and Wildlife Resources, Inc. (POWWR) is trying to force a recalcitrant Board of Selectmen to heed citizen desires for an ordinance that protects water, not simply lays down rules for its extraction by Nestle. Here’s an excerpt:

Why have Shapleigh officials not been responsive to citizen input? And to what extent can that behavior be attributed to influence by Nestle? Those are questions that strike at the heart of the democratic process, and the public deserves clear answers to them.

Sound familiar? Read the rest of their press release here:

DATE: January 27, 2009

FROM: Protect Our Water and Wildlife Resources, Inc. (POWWR)

RE: Ordinances governing large-scale water extraction in Shapleigh, Maine


BACKGROUND: Control of large-scale water-extraction is at issue in Shapleigh today solely because the Swiss-based industrial food giant Nestle, doing business in Maine through the company called Poland Spring, is proposing massive water extraction for commercial profit in both Shapleigh and neighboring Newfield. Such extraction would be unprecedented for these small towns, and Nestle’s unremitting pressure to effect it represents the latest phase in what is emerging as a world-wide battle for control of the planet’s supply of fresh water. How citizens and their governments respond at this level and this time is therefore a matter of the highest importance.

UPDATE: In a move designed to make their position crystal-clear, POWWR members voted unanimously last week to reject an invitation from Shapleigh selectmen to discuss their opposing views on local control of large-scale water extraction.

The reasoning behind POWWR’s decision last week includes the following facts:

By its very nature, the large-scale water-extraction ordinance drawn up this fall by the Shapleigh Planning Board to be placed before voters in March does not give voters the option of saying an unqualified NO to large-scale water extraction; it merely sets terms for regulating the extraction. In fact, current interpretation of state and federal laws means that NO such regulatory ordinance, no matter how strict, can deny drillers the right to extract once applicants have met all terms of regulation.

POWWR offers voters an alternative: an ordinance whose legal authority is seen as grounded in the U.S. Constitution’s assurance that individuals and the towns through which they express their collective wills have a basic right to self-governance. Such an ordinance*, termed “Constitutional,” or “rights-based,” in other words, DOES give voters the option of saying NO.

* Termed “Shapleigh Water Rights and Local Self-Government” in its application here, that ordinance will herein after be referred to as “the rights-based ordinance.”

Shapleigh voters have, in effect, said NO to Nestle multiple times already: first, in their response to a petition calling for a vote to impose an immediate moratorium on discussion of large-scale, corporate-funded and profit-motivated water extraction; next, in five public hearings ultimately held on the matter — hearings in which the turnout was exceptionally large and the prevailing sentiment almost uniformly critical of the proposed extraction; and, finally, in the voting on September 20, in which the lopsidedness of opinion could no longer be called into question: it ran not only 204 to 38 in favor of the moratorium, but 191 to 51 against further test drilling.

Moreover, in the time since the vote, citizens’ eagerness to sign petitions to (a) request the opportunity to vote on the rights-based (vs the regulatory) ordinance, and (b) set in motion, once selectmen denied that request, a process to force the voting opportunity, strikes POWWR as further evidence of Shapleigh citizens’ wish to say NO.

POWWR therefore believes that its support for a rights-based ordinance clearly reflects the will of the people.

POWWR continues to contend that the regulatory ordinance being proposed by the town is weak, even as judged by regulatory-ordinance standards only. That ordinance lacks specificity — most significantly, on the critical matters of water-extraction rates, hours of operation, and traffic patterns — and, dependent as it is upon other passages in the town’s bylaws, it lacks the unitary simplicity and strength of a stand-alone document.

But POWWR and others have already pointed out those weaknesses. In response, they’ve been ignored. Frustrated and rebuffed, POWWR sought a way to be heard, and that search led it to the discovery of the rights-based ordinance.

POWWR advocacy of the rights-based ordinance thus represents a major step forward, since adoption of it would obviate the need for a regulatory ordinance. (Drillers who are not allowed in in the first place don’t need their drilling regulated.) That being the case, POWWR now views its participation in continued discussion about ways to strengthen the regulatory ordinance as contradictory and counter-productive to its current primary goal. Such discussion would also represent POWWR’s betrayal of all those who have supported POWWR in its efforts to find a way to speak a resounding NO.

Why have Shapleigh officials not been responsive to citizen input? And to what extent can that behavior be attributed to influence by Nestle? Those are questions that strike at the heart of the democratic process, and the public deserves clear answers to them.

Town officials’ serious consideration of the rights-based ordinance would go far to reassure Shapleigh citizens that their elected figures are responsive to their constituencies and are above reproach; their support of the regulatory ordinance, and especially of one that is markedly weak, only fuels growing suspicions of base pandering.

POWWR members have come to none of these conclusions lightly or without studied consideration. Most especially do they realize that the current weight of legal opinion opposes rights-based ordinances, so that the battle for change can be expected to be long and hard. That opposition, however, only exposes the extent to which our laws, before they’re improved upon, often actually subvert justice.

Here, democracy demanded will keep the very water under our feet from being declared a commodity available for the taking by a giant, for-profit, multi-national company. It will give voice to an aquifer unable to defend itself, and to all those of us that are dependent on it – people, plants, animals, and the ecosystems of which we are all a part. And it will make us proud as we say, “If we do not have a democracy where we live, where on earth DO we have it?”