We’ve just learned that the private Fryeburg Water Company wants to seal a deal with Nestlé/Poland Spring to guarantee that Nestlé buys at least 75 million gallons of spring water per year for the next 25 years with the option to extend for up to four additional five-year terms – a total of 45 years.
According to a news story in the Conway Daily Sun on Friday, “The two companies have had a state-approved agreement since 2008, but the proposed changes mean the agreement will need to be reviewed by the Maine Public Utilities Commission.”
The newspaper reports: “The PUC announced it is currently accepting public comment on the proposal. The comment period is open through Sept. 4.”
There are many reasons to oppose a private contract requiring Nestlé to buy "at least 75 million gallons per year." But the first step is to call for an extension of time for public comment and for a public hearing.
Call PUC Attorney Matthew Kaply (207) 287-1368 who is in charge of this case and demand that the public comment period be extended at least to the end of September. Also call for a public hearing.
You can also sign in as a registered public user on the PUC website and post specific comments which will go to the staff and Commissioners.
Here are a few talking points.
• The public comment period must be extended at least to the end of September. The original period of two weeks during peak vacation time and over Labor Day weekend is totally unacceptable.
• The issues need to be aired in a public hearing, not just hidden away on the PUC website.
• PUC Chairman Thomas Welch and Commissioner Littell should recuse themselves from this case due to their past association with Pierce, Atwood which has a long history of representing Nestlé. Commissioner Littell was an attorney at Pierce, Atwood from 1992-2003, the last four years as a partner.
• Water is a fundamental right for people and nature. Nestlé’s profit should not come before these fundamental rights.
• Only the Fryeburg Water Company will get to decide if there is a water shortage in Fryeburg allowing less water to be sold to Nestlé, not the local residents or businesses. Then only for 60 days! FWC has a financial interest in denying there is any shortage. Town residents and local businesses will suffer while Nestlé will have its guaranteed 75 million gallons per year to bottle and ship around the country.
• This proposed 25-year contract would set a precedent for the state. Nestlé could refer to this in future cases anywhere in the state.
• The PUC must reject this proposed agreement. Here is the pdf of the filed agreement.
Thanks! Ruth and Chris