COURT RESCHEDULED! Maine’s Groundwater: Day of Reckoning NOW March 1, 2016

Update: COURT RESCHEDULED FOR MARCH 1 

MAINE’S GROUNDWATER: Day of Reckoning on March 1, 2016. Come bear witness – this is it!

The Maine Supreme Court will be hearing final oral arguments at the Cumberland County Courthouse (205 Newbury St Portland, ME 04101) regarding the 45 year contract between Nestlé and the Fryeburg Water Company on Tuesday March 1 at 1:30pm. Be sure to arrive early as you will have to pass through security to enter the courtroom.Over 3 years ago, in August 2012, it came to light that Nestlé (for their Poland Spring brand) was pursuing a precedent setting ’45 year’ exclusive contract with the Fryeburg Water Company (FWC). The Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) commanded this case with conflict-of-interest commissioners at the helm. Our community did not get adequate administrative relief in this case. Ultimately, after a long struggle, the MPUC approved the case but is not yet final because we filed this appeal.If this appeal fails, Nestlé will have unfettered access to our community’s groundwater, which gives this multinational corporation an upper-hand over our life-giving resource for decades to come. ALL OF MAINE is at risk. We do not have adequate groundwater laws protecting us from bulk water mining which entitles Nestlé to exploit and compromise our resources. This is especially concerning with new international trade agreements being considered as the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) that would affect us.Please come to the courthouse and join us in observation of the process to which our water rights in Maine may be encroached upon by a global water predator… however, NOT WITH OUR CONSENT!!
A lot can happen in 45 years. With prolonged drought and other meteorologic conditions due to a changing climate, the inevitable changes in the water market or with the sustainability / quality of the water supply, we have great concern. Such predatory features of this contract have great potential to harm the local rate payers, the FWC and all others depending on the aquifer to sustain themselves.
Here are some examples of (though not limited to) some facts of the contract under appeal:CONTRACT FACT: The length is for 20 years, with option for 5, 5-year extensions for a total of 45 years with NO public input. There is no process outlined in granting the extensions.CONTRACT FACT: The annual MINIMUM extraction is 75 million gallons. There is no upper limit in the terms.CONTRACT FACT: Nestlé can terminate this contract in 2 years while the Fryeburg Water Company must give 5 years notice.
Consider: Imbalanced; giving advantage to the more powerful party.CONTRACT FACT: Nestlé’s bulk extraction can not be reduced or suspended for “no greater duration and to no greater extent, than what Fryeburg Water Company suspends or reduces its water sales to (local) commercial and industrial customers”.
CONSIDER While Nestlé can easily extract water from its other worldwide sources, where will Fryeburg’s businesses get their water? This deal grossly favors Nestlé, which does not reside locally, over the local businesses the Fryeburg Water Company is supposed to serve.

CONTRACT FACT: Nestlé will pay the same tariff rates as the local customers. Additionally, they are on a prorated pay scale – the more they pump, the less they pay per unit.
CONSIDER: Nestlé gets its water from all of well #1 and most of well #2. These wells are designated “spring water”. The local rate payers can get some water from well #2, and all of well #3. Well #3 is not designated as spring water and is near old industrial sites. There is obvious economic value to spring water and Nestlé has to receive significant value from advertising and using this asset. The local rate payers are subject to the same rate scale, but don’t get valuable “spring water”. For example, if a micro brewery wanted to start up in Fryeburg it could not gain the economic benefit of advertising that it brewed with “spring water” but it would be subject to the same rate structure as Nestlé.
(*The public advocate made the point that under the new payment structure Nestlé would be paying only $1.00 per thousand gallons, half of what they were previously paying).

CONTRACT FACT: Nestlé is the only allowed purchaser of bulk water in the proposed contract.
CONSIDER: By being tied to Nestlé for 45 years, the FWC has lost a very valuable competitive advantage. In most other states water is becoming scarcer which the FWC could use to its advantage in negotiating bulk water sales with other large purchasers.

CONTRACT FACT: It permits Nestlé to locate a new water source for the town of Fryeburg off it’s own aquifer.
CONSIDER: How will that affect the rates and infrastructure maintenance in the future if we have to move the town to a different aquifer? Why should Nestlé be permitted to over-pump so that we no longer have access to our own aquifer? Is this not legalized theft of our water resources?

Our water commons need protection and not exploitation.
We need our life-giving resources under a public trust to never be privatized.

Thank you. Please pass this on to spread the word.
With questions or to get involved, contact Nickie: nickiesekera(at)gmail(dot)com

ACTION ALERT: TELL PUC NO DEALS WITH NESTLÉ IN FRYEBURG

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.”  Of particular concern, because it includes Nestlé drilling an additional well.  But the first step is to call for an extension of time for public comment and for a public hearing.

ACT TODAY!

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.
http://www.maine.gov/mpuc/online/index.shtml  The case number is 2008-00052.

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. This agreement includes Nestle’s drilling of an additional well.

•       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 url for a pdf of the filed agreement.https://mpuc-cms.maine.gov/CQM.Public.WebUI/MatterManagement/MatterFilingItem.aspx?FilingSeq=72309&CaseNumber=2008-00052

Thanks! Ruth and Chris

###

Here is an example letter submitted by Lisa S:

Water is a fundamental right for the people of Maine and their grandchildren, for the fish and other wildlife in our state, and for the farmers who feed us all.Fresh, potable water will surely become the scarcest resource on the planet during the 21st century. Allowing corporations to gain access to Maine’s incredible aquifer for profits to benefit their shareholders does not and should not come before these fundamental rights.The issues around allowing the Nestlé corporation broader access to pumping out and bottling Maine’s water as a consumer product are fundamental to life as we have known it here.

Therefore, the public comment period for Case 2008-00052 must be extended at least to the end of September, 2012. The original period of two weeks during peak vacation time and over Labor Day weekend is unacceptable. Further, it creates the impression that the Maine PUC is attempting to limit public input into this important decision.

Also, 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.

Under the proposed change, only the Fryeburg Water Company (FWC) would have the power to decide if there is a water shortage in Fryeburg allowing less water to be sold to Nestlé. Local residents and businesses would have no say in how to manage future water shortages.

Note that FWC has a financial interest in denying there is any shortage, so that town residents and local businesses could suffer water shortages while Nestlé enjoyed its guaranteed 75 million gallons per year to bottle for profit.

This proposed 25-year contract would set a precedent for the state. Nestlé could refer to this in future cases anywhere in the state. This suggests itself as a reason why the contract is being rushed through the PUC approval process.

ACTION ALERT: TELL PUC NO DEALS WITH NESTLÉ IN FRYEBURG

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.”  Of particular concern, because it includes Nestlé drilling an additional well.  But the first step is to call for an extension of time for public comment and for a public hearing.

ACT TODAY!

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.
http://www.maine.gov/mpuc/online/index.shtml  The case number is 2008-00052.

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. This agreement includes Nestle’s drilling of an additional well.

•       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 url for a pdf of the filed agreement.https://mpuc-cms.maine.gov/CQM.Public.WebUI/MatterManagement/MatterFilingItem.aspx?FilingSeq=72309&CaseNumber=2008-00052

Thanks! Ruth and Chris

###

Here is an example letter submitted by Lisa S:

Water is a fundamental right for the people of Maine and their grandchildren, for the fish and other wildlife in our state, and for the farmers who feed us all.Fresh, potable water will surely become the scarcest resource on the planet during the 21st century. Allowing corporations to gain access to Maine’s incredible aquifer for profits to benefit their shareholders does not and should not come before these fundamental rights.The issues around allowing the Nestlé corporation broader access to pumping out and bottling Maine’s water as a consumer product are fundamental to life as we have known it here.

Therefore, the public comment period for Case 2008-00052 must be extended at least to the end of September, 2012. The original period of two weeks during peak vacation time and over Labor Day weekend is unacceptable. Further, it creates the impression that the Maine PUC is attempting to limit public input into this important decision.

Also, 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.

Under the proposed change, only the Fryeburg Water Company (FWC) would have the power to decide if there is a water shortage in Fryeburg allowing less water to be sold to Nestlé. Local residents and businesses would have no say in how to manage future water shortages.

Note that FWC has a financial interest in denying there is any shortage, so that town residents and local businesses could suffer water shortages while Nestlé enjoyed its guaranteed 75 million gallons per year to bottle for profit.

This proposed 25-year contract would set a precedent for the state. Nestlé could refer to this in future cases anywhere in the state. This suggests itself as a reason why the contract is being rushed through the PUC approval process.