By Jenny Tomkins
In These Times
When Nestlé Waters North America, the world’s largest bottler of water, comes a-courting, promising jobs and increased tax revenues in exchange for local water rights, many small, rural towns get nervous.
Deborah Lapidus, an organizer with the Think Outside the Bottle campaign, says this skepticism stems from Henderson, Texas, which in the ’90s saw Nestlé suck one of its wells dry.
“The company prioritizes its own use over the environment and other uses,” says Lapidus.
As well as draining water, Nestlé also attempts to deplete these communities’ finances, Lapidus says. Towns trying to defend their reservoirs have found themselves in costly legal battles. Fryeburg, Maine, for example, has been sued five times by Nestlé for “interfering with the right to grow their market share.”
Last summer, when Nestlé Waters North America/Poland Spring negotiated with the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Wells Water District, public outcry forced the proposal to be tabled. The trustees of Wells Water District discussed a deal in which 433,000 gallons of water were to be extracted daily from the Branch Brook Aquifer for 0.06 cents per gallon.
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