Southern Maine Awash In Water Wars

SHAPLEIGH (WCSH TV, Portland)–Water may be the new environmental battleground in Maine. There is increasing opposition to efforts by Poland Spring and its parent company, Nestle, to tap new sources for its bottled water plants.

People in the York county towns of Newfield and Shapleigh are the latest to organize. They believe Poland Spring and Nestle want to pump water from under the Vernon Walker Wildlife management Area, a 4,000 acre reserve that covers the two towns. Activists in the community said the company has placed a number of test wells within the management area over the past three years.

On Sunday, members of a group called POWWR, “Preserving Our Water and Wildlife Resources,” led a hike through the management area to show other opponents the test wells.

They claim those wells were drilled without any chance for public input or hearings. Deborah Turcotte, spokesperson for the Maine department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said DIFW is involved in continuing discussions with Nestle/Poland Spring and the Town of Shapleigh. But Turcotte said the town passed a six month moratorium in September to allow time to create a water ordinance. That means nothing can happen until that ordinance is created and passed. And she said if the effort to draw water from the wildlife management area does move forward, there will be ample opportunity for public input and public hearings.