Maine Communities Fight for Local Control of Water
At Toxics Action Center, we believe that access to clean water is a human right. This puts us at odds with some powerful interests that are making lots of money by commodifying water. The Swiss corporation Nestlé is one such interest. On the international scene, they have lobbied against water rights and their CEO is on the record as stating “access to water should not be a public right.” On the local level, they are making moves in the state of Maine to control and sell more water under their brand name Poland Spring.
Bottled water is a huge waste of energy and creates mountains of plastic trash. Environmentally-minded people are using refillable bottles and some municipalities are even banning the sale of bottled water. Unfortunately, Nestlé has had success exploiting Maine’s image as a pristine locale and the demand for their product continues to grow. They currently extract hundreds of millions of gallons of Maine’s groundwater every year.
Toxics Action has been working with Maine communities for over a decade to stand up to corporate control of water. We worked the towns of Shapleigh and Newfield to address community concerns about over-extraction and dangerous truck traffic. With our help, these towns passed local laws that kept Nestlé at bay.
The fight to protect Maine’s natural resources has recently escalated as Nestlé searches for a new town to host an extraction and bottling facility. We are working with a community group in Rumford who have come together to protect their town’s water. Protect Rumford Water Alliance is working to pass a local law that will restrict mass extraction and guarantee abundant fresh water in the future.
As a planet, we are headed into an uncertain climate future. Water will become scarcer. Will we use our water resources for the good of our communities or will we surrender our water rights to a foreign corporation? Brave residents in Denmark and other Maine towns are grappling with this question.