Residents of Shapleigh overwhelmingly vote to halt all activities of Poland Spring

September 22, 2008

Dearest friends, allies and water justice advocates:

I write to you all with astounding news from this weekend.

On Saturday, the residents of Shapleigh overwhelmingly voted to halt all activities of Poland Spring (Nestle Waters North America).

Shapleigh residents packed the elementary school’s cafeteria.  Well over 270 residents, journalists and water justice advocates attended, many forced to stand around the room’s walls.

The town hall’s warrant included two articles about water for Shapleigh residents to consider.  The first was a moratorium that would halt all water extraction activities for 180 days until the town is able to draft and approve a comprehensive water protection ordinance.  After some residents referenced the dissident and revolutionary actions of Paul Revere, the article was moved to vote and passed 204-38.

The second article was put on the warrant by Nestle.  It requested that the town approve the company to access a 150 acre parcel of town land to drill up to 15 test wells in March.  This is the time of year when Maine’s aquifers are recharged, and the company wanted to see if the parcel would be an adequate site for a well-head.  Once again, after passionate comments the article was moved to vote.  It was defeated 183 to 43.

Directly across the road from the town land is the Vernon Walker Game Management Area.  Nestle already has many test wells in this preserve.  And at one point was interested in pumping water from this public land.  Now that Nestle has been defeated in Shapleigh, we need to collectively work together in order to protect any future encroachment of Nestle on this state piece of property.

The game management area is a public resource and is owned by the PEOPLE OF MAINE. The test wells were sunk into the ground between Feb. 2006 and May 2007 WITHOUT ANY PUBLIC NOTICE. With the moratorium in place no further testing or permits can be granted at the Vernon Walker site for at least 180 days.  Funding sources for Inland Fisheries and Wildlife are insufficient. This makes the idea of mining water for profit attractive to Inland Fisheries and Wildlife officials.  Is it worth the cost?

Defending Water for Life encourages you all to contact the caretakers of OUR RESOURCE with your comments or concerns.  Indicate to them that Vernon Walker needs to protected for the generations to come and water mining is an inappropriate activity for this area.  (let us know if you contact Inland Fisheries so that we can keep track of comments).

Scott Lindsay -wildlife biologist scott.lindsay@maine.gov
Pratte, John  John.Pratte@maine.gov
Wildlife Management Section Supervisor
Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife
284 State Street #41
Augusta, ME  04333
207-287-5253

Paul  F. Jacques    P.F.Jacques@maine.gov
Deputy Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

Please visit www.defendingwater.net/maine/POWWR to find out more info about the Vernon Walker Game Management Area.

Our hats go off to the amazing grass-roots work done by the members of POWWR (Protecting our Water and Wildlife Resources).  They have been working tirelessly for the last six months to get to this point.  Many spending every weekend at the dump passing out literature and others hosting educational workshops and making sure that the media accurately covers this amazing story in rural Maine.  Please send them a note of congrats powwr@live.com

Stay tuned for more info and pictures.

Emily Posner
organizer for Defending Water for Life in Maine