Jessie Edelman: Small towns v. big companies

2The documentary Tapped is about the fight by the citizens of small towns in Maine against companies like Poland Spring, who take the local water and sell it for a profit while the town gets nothing.

Put simply, a law in Maine that was passed in the late 1800s says that whomever has the biggest pump can take the most water. Companies like Poland Spring send in their trucks, take the water, and sell it without paying the town anything. These companies taking the local water leads to droughts for the locals, who end up having to buy bottled water to survive. The citizens are being forced to pay for a commodity that is being stolen from a place they can get it for free.

1The towns most affected are often populated by people with low incomes. Residents get a water bill from the town at the end of each month.. When the droughts caused by big city companies stealing the water hit, these low-income families can’t afford to buy bottled water.

According to the documentary, companies like Nestlé, which owns Poland Spring, along with Pepsi-Co and Coca-Cola sell the stolen water at almost 2000 times the price of tap water. Not only are they stealing water from these small towns with low-income residents, but the companies are also stealing money so the citizens can buy it back.

A recent article on bangordailynews.com said:

In August 2012, the community [Maine] learned that Swiss corporation Nestle Waters North America (for its Poland Spring brand) was pursuing a U.S. precedent-setting, exclusive contract with a private municipal supplier, Fryeburg Water Co., that could last up to 45 years.

When the citizens found out about this contract, they spoke out against it and said the contract was “not in the best interest of our community.”

The case went all the way to the state’s Supreme Court. If the court rules against the citizens, the article says:

Nestlé will have unfettered access to our community’s groundwater, which gives this multinational corporation authority over our life-giving resource for decades to come. All of Maine is at risk. We do not have adequate groundwater laws protecting us from bulk water mining, which entitles Nestle to exploit and compromise our resources.

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