Victory in Wells!
Encouraged by the work of our ally, Save our H20 Maine, Food & Water Watch, and other dedicated activists, the people of Wells, Maine took to the polls in this month‚ elections and voted 2-1 to reject a new town ordinance that would have permitted groundwater withdrawals–a practice that has never before been allowed there. Written by the Wells Planning Board, the ordinance would have both permitted and regulated large-scale water extraction operations. Fun fact about the proposed ordinance: Representatives of the water-hogging behemoth Nestle North America (Nestle) which mines water for its Poland Spring brand in the state oh-so-obligingly lent their hand to the ordinance‚ crafting.
As if the victory wasn’t significant enough, it occurred in spite of a misinformation campaign conducted by Nestle that, among other dastardly deeds, advertised incorrect polling hours. Luckily, voters in Wells were too sharp for Nestle‚ antics, and the corporation‚ water imperialism was handily defeated.
Food & Water Watch joined local groups to counter Nestle‚ flood of lies by co-sponsoring a speaking tour by activist Terry Swier from Michigan; participating in screenings of Tapped followed by discussions afterward; tabling at community events with facts about bottled water and Food & Water Watch‚ report about Nestle; and assisting with community canvassing activities. Our new Maine organizer, Nisha Swinton, dove right into the activities with information tables and helping out with canvassing.
The battle over the right to the area‚ water dates back to the summer of 2008 when Nestle made a grab for the water of the Kennebunk-Kennebunkport-Wells municipal water supply. It was then that Food & Water Watch and Save Our H2O led the charge to have the Water District Board reject that audacious display corporate greed. Nestle has been so persistent in this area because it has a bottling plant located in nearby Hollis and wants an easy source of water to boost its profits.
With the fate of Wells groundwater secured for now, protecting groundwater in Maine and elsewhere from corporate exploitation remains a very really concern for water warriors at Food & Water Watch and our allied organizations. One of our most important, yet least understood natural resources, a robust groundwater supply is essential to our economy, our health, and our environment. Yet around the county, groundwater levels are depleting at an alarming rate, due in part, to its abuse by private interests. Check out our resources on groundwater for more information on this critical issue. Then stay tuned to Smorgasbord for updates on similar fights!