DW4L was alarmed to find out that the Passamaquoddy Tribal Leaders have returned to the idea to tap one of the largest aquifers in Maine, and build a bottling plant. Under the guise of creating jobs, the Tribe now faces even more exploitation, if they give up the rights to their water. In addition, the proposed plant is located dangerously close to the proposed East-West highway, ensuring exploitation by the global market.
INDIAN TOWNSHIP, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — A team of geologists has made a discovery that could create 150 jobs in Washington County: a 1,000 acre aquifer with 22 untapped, bubbling springs.
The aquifer is on the Passamaquoddy Tribe’s land in Indian Township.
Tribal leaders are hoping to tap into that aquifer to manufacture Passamaquoddy Blue bottled water.
Geologists with A.E. Hodsdon Engineering said the aquifer has so much water, the tribe could tap 1 million gallons a day.
“We can probably take out 10 times that amount volume,” said Al Hodsdon.
“But you couldn’t bottle that much water, that’s a lot of water,” he said.
Hodsdon has called it the “Saudi Arabia” of fresh ground water, and said test results qualify the water as “above excellent.”
Members of the tribe said they have always known about the natural resource, but never knew how much water sat below the ground.
After consulting with Hodsdon and a developer, Mike Dugay, the tribe is moving foward with plans to develop the plant and manufacture the water.
Economic development consultant Harold Claussey, Director of the Sunrise County Economic Council, has forecasted that the plant would create between 60 and 80 direct jobs, and 80 indirect jobs.
“This is something that we’re really hoping becomes a reality,” said Indian Township Economic Development Director Ernie Neptune.
The Passamaquoddy Tribe reports an unemployment rate of 65 percent.
“With a 60 plus unemployment rate in this area, it’s going to be a blessing,” said Neptune.
It’s the poorest part of the poorest county, where surrounding Washington County towns report unemployment rates as high as percent.
But there is a sense of cautious optimism surrounding this project.
“I think a lot of people want to see it before they believe it,” said Passamaquoddy Karen Sabattis.
In the last decade, the tribe has attempted several projects to create jobs and boost the local economy: a natural gas line terminal, a racino, and a lumber company.
All three projects failed.
But project developers, geologists, and tribal government leaders think it’s going to be different this time around.
“So you’ve got great quality, great quantities, and great opportunity for Washington County, and certainly for the Passamaquoddy Tribe in Indian Township,” said Dugay.
The tribe needs to secure $22 million in funding from the Bureau of Indian Affairs before they can build the bottling plant.
If that funding comes through, the tribe hopes to have the plant up and running by 2013.