Poland Springs, a subsidiary of Nestle, has been granted approval to use groundwater from the town of Fryeburg, Maine for the next 25 years. The contract has the potential to be extended for another 45 years. Securing the agreement was made easier because the town’s water supplier is a private company. The state’s absolute dominion laws with respect to groundwater have also eased the path forward. Under these laws, property ownership includes ownership of all water mining rights. The contract has been approved by Maine’s Public Utilities Commission, where there has been a history of past Commissioners having ties with Nestle. The Supreme Court of Maine has also upheld the decision.
The agreement establishes the longest time period in U.S. history for tying up water resources. This has the potential to set a precedent for future decisions across the country. Nestle also has a long track record of taking water without assuming responsibility for any harm to the environment that it causes. Threats to local water security come at a time of increasing global water insecurity, increased industry pollution of waterways, and climate change. The company has tried to secure water rights in two other states where it has failed. It is currently trying to secures water in Oregon and Pennsylvania.