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Fryeburg Water Seeks Long-Term Contract with Nestle
03/08/2013 11:33 AM ET  

Fryeburg Water, a privately-owned utility, wants to extend the contract to as long as 45 years - an initial 25 years, with four five-year extensions.


A proposal by Fryeburg Water Company to extend its contract with Nestle Waters to provide water for Poland Spring, drew supporters and opponents to a public hearing last night in the western Maine town.

Fryeburg Water, a privately-owned utility, wants to extend the contract to as long as 45 years - an initial 25 years, with four five-year extensions.  The agreement would lock in payments and rules that govern Nestle's withdrawls of water for Poland Spring. 

Supporter Kimberly Clark argued that it's important for Poland Spring to have access to as much water as it needs to meet demand - and, sometimes, emergency demand.

"The very first product asked for in a natural or man-made disaster is potable bottled water - it's critically important," Clark told members of the Maine Public Utilities Commission, which held the hearing. "In my opinion, it's a product that's vital to the national security of our country."

She disagreed with the view of some opponents that the deal is driven by greed. "There's another kind of greed and that's the greed of hoarding, that's the greed of saying that, 'Well I'm going to keep this from you.  I'm going to keep this in case I run out.  I'm not going to share what I have of value with other people in the country,'" Clark said.

Debbie Lennon spoke in opposition to the agreement.  "It's fortune telling, and I'm not sure I'm willing to put my quarter into the fortune-telling machine of Nestle," she said.

Also speaking in opposition was Deborah Walters.  She said the only beneficiaries of the agreement would be Fryeburg Water Company, its stockholders and Nestle. "This is not just a simple business agreement," Walters said. "It is a nightmare for the town of Fryeburg and surrounding towns."

PUC Chair Thomas Welch says the commission will make the final decision on the proposal, based on whether it's in the interest of ratepayers.

This story was reported by Susan Sharon and written by Ed Morin.

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