Maine Residents Condemn Potential Sale Of Water Mining Permits By Nestlé To Private Equity Firm
Updated: Mar 20
*photo credit Robin Farrin
Maine Residents Turn Out to Condemn Potential Sale Of Water Mining Permits By Nestlé (Poland Spring) To Private Equity Firm
Group rolls out a list of demands as a roadmap to regain local control of water source.
-- On Saturday, February 13, about 100 concerned residents gathered outdoors in a small western Maine mountain valley town, to “Sound The Alarm” about the largest private transfer of water for bottling in U.S. history.
Nestlé, the world’s largest corporate water bottler, is planning to sell its North American bulk bottled water business, which operates the brand Poland Spring and several others, to private equity firm One Rock Capital Partners. This massive transfer of ‘water wealth,’ estimated at $4 billion, is an especially ominous development in light of Wall Street’s accelerating interest in ‘water futures’ trading.
“Wall Street and water don’t mix,” stated Nickie Sekera, Community Water Justice cofounder and Fryeburg resident. “Rural communities cannot afford to compete with Wall Street speculators for Maine’s groundwater. This water connects to all of us and should be stewarded by the local communities who depend on them, not negotiated away behind closed doors, exploited and exported by corporations for private profit.”
It’s time for Maine to protect its waters for future generations.
Maulian Dana, Penobscot Nation Tribal Ambassador states, “As Penobscot people still living in our ancestral homelands, we know how precious and life-giving water is for our tribal communities and the whole state. We stand in opposition to the proposed action by Nestle and One Rock Capital Partners- and remind our friends and neighbors that water is life.”
A list of demands were given by Fryeburg residents, as a “roadmap” to regain control and support local stewardship of the community’s groundwater source.
1. Stop the privatization of Maine's water - Keep stewardship in the hands of the local community, not corporations or Wall Street speculators
2. No transfer of Nestle contracts or permits in sale - Contracts not transferable to any new buyer and NO long-term contracts
3. Expand the scientific data of our aquifer study to include the recommendations proposed by the Fryeburg Water District
4. Demand full transparency in any water negotiations - No closed door meetings and we ask that the Fryeburg Water Company enter into community negotiations to work toward the transfer of assets to the Fryeburg Water District.
A national U.S. coalition of front-line communities and Canadian partners fighting Nestle’s water exports released a joint statement this weekend on the proposed sale. Along with raising several concerns, the coalition writes, “because private equity deals like this are the least transparent and regulated of financial transactions, we call on elected leaders, regulators, advocacy groups and the media in Canada and the US to ‘follow the money’ and expose this deal to the highest levels of public scrutiny.”
*Community Water Justice is a network of front-line communities fighting water privatization in Maine, determined to secure protections, rights and accessibility to our groundwater through education and action for future generations.
Julian Zhu photos.