Tag Archives: wekepeke

Wekepeke Water (Coveted by Poland Spring), Sterling, Clinton Back in the News Again

From the No Drumlins blog comes more controversy about the Wekepeke watershed – which Nestle/Poland Springs coveted, which in turn fired off a verbal war between the Clinton and Sterling selectmen.

Will Nestle/Poland Spring’s project rise up again?

It’s bad enough that some of the leadership in Clinton see the Wekepeke Reservoir and aquifer as nothing more than a money maker. But the Sterling Selectmen have been little better in voicing their opposition to Clinton’s plan. Long after Clinton rejected Nestle’s initial bid the Sterling selectmen finally decided that yeah, well, maybe selling the water wasn’t such a great idea so we’ll oppose it.

Opposing the plan when it was still a going question would have been the responsible thing to do, but Sterling’s selectmen dragged their feet to see what Sterling could get out of the deal, only to finally oppose it after a decision had been made and after months of near-unanimous opposition from those in town who voiced an opinion.

You can read the whole interesting post here: No Drumlins: Wekepeke: Here we go again.

Nestle/Poland Spring Water Battle Tops Sterling News 2008 Wrapup Too

In another look back at 2008, the Sterling News also led their wrap-up with a Nestle Waters/Poland Spring story – this one about the very contentious Wekepeke aquifer.

On the water front, much of the year was devoted to the Wekepeke Aquifer, and an effort by Nestle Waters to use the resource for bottled water. Clinton officials signed an agreement in June to resist Nestle’s advances, but Sterling officials did not immediately sign on.

A local group, the Committee for Informed Citizens, implored the Selectmen to make a similar stand and close off the aquifer to Nestle. Finally, in October, the Selectmen released a statement taking a stand against commercial use of the water.

“The purchase and re-sale of water of the Wekepeke aquifer by any private company, such as Nestle Waters, should not be encouraged or permitted,” the Selectmen said in the Oct. 1 statement. “The sale of public water from the Wekepeke aquifer does not represent sound public policy nor is it in the spirit or intent of the original and subsequent enabling legislation.”

This was classic Nestle/Poland Spring; the deal was halfway to finished before the citizenry found out, and only a strong response got it tabled – especially after questions about the saleability of the water were raised.

“Tabled” Nestle Contract Topic of Discussion Among Clinton Selectmen… Again

Though everybody said it was a dead issue, the idea of Clinton selling Wekepeke water to Nestle was raised again at the Clinton Selectmen meeting.

Like a zombie rising from the grave to eat the brains of the living, this is a bad idea that simply won’t go away:

From the Worcester Telegram & Gazette News:

The loss of $250,000 in state money to fix deteriorating earthen dams at the Clinton-owned Wekepeke Reservoir in Sterling last night prompted a discussion among selectmen of revisiting selling Wekepeke water to Nestlé Waters North America for bottling.

A contract between the town and Nestlé allowing the bottling company access to the 564-acre parcel for testing will expire in March.

The idea was initially an unpopular among Sterling residents, where the Wekepeke reservoir is located, and there are some significant legal questions about Clinton’s right to sell the water.

Some even felt the Clinton Selectmen misrepresented the extent of the negotiations with Nestle, and given all the questions and opposition, the whole project was apparently put to rest.

Still, it appears several of the selectmen don’t want to re-open the negotiation, which will hopefully (and finally) put this issue to bed:

After much opposition in Sterling and some legal questions, the town earlier this year turned down a deal with Nestlé that would have included money to repair the four dams, two of which were considered in danger of collapsing. The Wekepeke, with five reservoirs, was once Clinton’s public water supply, but has not been used since the 1960s.

Some Sterling residents have contended all along that Nestlé has not given up on buying Wekepeke water.

Selectman Anthony M. Fiorentino suggested that with the state money for dam repairs cut, the town might look again at the Nestlé proposal.

But Selectmen Mary Rose Dickhaut, Kathleen A. Sheridan, and James J. LeBlanc were against it.

“I think there are too many consequences,” Ms. Dickhaut said. “I thought we had put this to rest.”

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Clinton Paper is Running Poll on Nestle & Wekepeke; Invest Ten Seconds and Be Heard

The Wicked Local Web site (Clinton) is hosting a poll suggesting Clinton should give Nestle a second shot at the Wekepeke watershed (the Sterling/Clinton mess), and if you can find 20 seconds in your day, why not pop over and let your voice be heard?

The poll’s titled: “Should Clinton solicit another Wekepeke water bid?

Sadly, the poll shortchanges the reasons why you wouldn’t want a profit-hungry multinational mining your water, including:

  • Almost none of Nestle’s enormous bottled water profits return to the community
  • Few – if any – local jobs are created by a pumping station
  • Clinton may not even have the legal right to sell the water
  • Truck traffic (and the attendant noise & pollution) have a significant negative impact on nearby communities (like Sterling)

To vote, visit this page, and vote in the box to the left of the story. Right now the poll’s running 65%/35% in favor of giving Nestle another shot at the Wekepeke water – and this despite all the unanswered questions.

Let ’em know how you feel.

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Nestle, Selectman Accused of Secret Negotiations for Wekepeke Water

Those familiar with the McCloud Services District secret contract “negotiations” with Nestle will find this tale of corporate-driven municipal secrecy from the Worcester Telegram eerily familiar.

The Board of Selectman for the rural town of Wekepeke [ed: sorry, search and replace error on Sterling & Wekepeke – all fixed now] Clinton, Maine engaged in talks with Nestle, but hid the extent of the talks from the public by conducting them in executive sessions.

They even destroyed a Memorandum of Understanding (signed by the selectman) in an apparent attempt to mask the extent of the negotiations.

The affair plays out like a low-budget detective movie; the whole unpleasant episode came to light only after a citizens group started asking questions.

From the Worcester Telegram:

A group of residents calling themselves the Committee for Informed Citizens is accusing the Board of Selectmen of backroom maneuvers, public deception and repeated violations of the state’s Open Meeting Law.

“At first we thought this was just a sloppy administration of communication by the town,” said Doris Bennett, a CIC member. “But we found that the selectmen refused to account” for the board’s actions.

CIC requested that the town address its concerns at its Aug. 20 selectmen’s meeting, but that did not happen. The group has asked that they be addressed in open session at the next selectmen’s meeting on Sept. 3. The most serious issue they ask is “why six executive sessions were conducted in which selectmen discussed the Nestlé project and appear to have been called and held in violation of the state’s Open Meeting Law.”

According to CIC, none of the sessions was announced or voted on in open session, and at least half of the sessions concerned information that did not qualify for discussion in executive session. In addition, Nestlé attended at least one of these sessions, they say.

The story is an involved one (and worth a read), but the bottom line is this: once again, Nestle participated in – and tacitly (if not actively) – pushed the Board of Selectman to enter into an agreement without any public review.

Track Nestle’s tactics long enough, and you’ll see patterns repeat – right down to the hiring of “consultants” suffering a clear conflict of interest.

Here, the citizen watchdog group (CIC) rolled out what looks like a smoking gun (with Nestle’s fingerprints all over it):

CIC also presented an unsigned copy of a memorandum of agreement between Sterling selectmen and Nestlé. Ms. Bennett said two selectmen provided conflicting information as to whether it was signed and Ms. Ackerman indicated the signed memo had been destroyed because Nestlé hadn’t signed it. CIC said the existence of the draft indicates that proceedings between the town and Nestlé had progressed much further than selectmen had made public.

The memorandum called for the creation of an escrow account, to be funded by Nestlé, and accessed by Sterling to reimburse itself for payments made to its outside legal counsel to evaluate whether the proposal could be performed under Sterling’s zoning bylaws, and draft whatever zoning amendments and-or agreements needed so that the proposal could be implemented; and payments made to Sterling’s hydrogeologist to review and advise Sterling, which is employed by the same company as the hydrogeologist used by Nestlé.

You’ll forgive me if “escrow account” sounds a lot like a “slush fund” – candy for a cash-strapped rural town.

The rest of the Worcester Telegram’s story reads like a laundry list of predatory corporate behavior; at one point, the consultant hired by the town (with Nestle’s money) turns out to be the same hydrogeologist who works with Nestle elsewhere in Maine.

Amusingly, this “consultant” reviewed only Nestle’s data when advising the Board of Selectman – an environment so biased towards Nestle’s interests that it’s safe to say no real independent evaluation actually took place.

However the residents of Clinton resolve this furball, one thing remains clear; Nestle’s predatory tactics in rural towns are not only documented, they continue to repeat themselves.