Lessons from a youthful activist

By Gail Geraghty, Bridgton News

DENMARK — Emily Posner isn’t thinking 10 years out. Or even 100 years out.

When it comes to defending the state’s water resources from exploitation by the bottled water industry. Posner said, “We need to think 200 years out.”

Posner, with her youthful face and thick curly hair cascading out from a knit cap, told those attending last week’s meeting of the Natural Resource Defenders that they have the power — if they so choose — to stop Nestle* Waters North America dead in its tracks.

“That’s what I love about Maine — the people and the culture here is so concerned” about protecting its way of life, said Posner. a grassroots organizer and coordinator of the Defending Water for Life campaign in Maine. She pledged to offer her help to the Denmark group as it ponders how to respond to Nestle’s request to renew its permit for a commercial groundwater extraction operation.

Posner wants not only to change state law to put all groundwater into the public trust, she’d like to prevent all companies from bottling and exporting water anywhere.

On the defendingwaterforlife.org website, Posner has collected and posted articles and videos detailing the grassroots efforts of several Maine communities to halt or curtail water mining operations by Nestle. One town. Shapleigh, has already voted in a six-month moratorium on bulk water extraction; Wells voters will decide their own moratorium proposal in November.

‘Through those shared experiences we’ll be able to control our destiny,” she said. In the past, “we haven’t exercised our civic responsibilities” by questioning the right of a multinational corporation to tap into the state’s groundwater, she said.

‘The reason why Wells, Kennebunk and Shapleigh have been so successful is that they took the attitude that if the law didn’t agree with them, that’s too bad.” said Posner. “We are able to create the law. We are our own legislators. We’re not dumb hicks. Shapleigh sent a mandate to Nestle that they don’t want them there,” and Denmark can too, she said.