Maine towns justified in skepticism about Poland Spring (letter)

Portland Press Herald, February 16, 2009

After the citizens of Shapleigh overwhelmingly voted to deny Nestle the right to “test” for water on town-owned property, this newspaper weighed in with an editorial implicitly chiding citizens for their decision (“Poland Spring deserves its warm welcome,” Feb. 4).

The author tried to justify the paper’s position using false information, quite possibly obtained from biased sources. For your edification, the extraction of water for the purposes of bottling is not similar to extracting a like amount for agricultural purposes.

When used for agricultural purposes, a large percentage of the water percolates back into the ground to recharge the same aquifer. When the water is removed, bottled and sold elsewhere, the water does not replenish the same aquifer.

A 10-minute Google search should have turned up USGS circular 1186, “Sustainability of Ground Water Resources,” which confirms my assertion.

I fully support that a privately owned company, such as this newspaper, has the right to support one agenda over another. Advertising for Poland Spring (Nestle) is impossible to miss and the number of free public relations “news” articles given to this multinational giant should be a reminder of “who pays the bills.”

That being said, I would hope that this paper could muster up an iota of civic responsibility and give one unbiased article to the small, citizen-rights-based group POWWR (Protecting Our Water and Wildlife Resources) trying to protect what amounts to Maine’s heritage to future generations. I am not a member of POWWR, but have attended exactly two of their information meetings and can attest that they “do not bite.”

Yes, they are passionate about their work, but are friendly and convincingly informative. I’m not suggesting they get equal time, just a fair shake.

(Letter submitted by Charles Scamman, a resident of Shapleigh.)