AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine utility regulators on Tuesday said Poland Spring’s plan to pump up to 172 million gallons of water a year from a public water district well would not take water away from existing customers.
Nestle Waters North America, the parent company of Poland Spring, applied for a permit from the state to draw water from the Lincoln Water District. The Maine Public Utilities Commission agreed with the company and the water district at a Tuesday meeting that the district’s customers would not be affected.
Regulators will have the final word on the permit decision.
Lincoln Water District Superintendent Jeffrey Day told commissioners in a recent letter that a shuttered Lincoln mill drew about 174 million gallons of water from the well in 2011.
Poland Spring wants to transport water that may undergo filtration or ultraviolet processes from the Lincoln Water District well through an underground pipeline to a planned new water facility in Lincoln. From there, it expects about 100 tanker truck visits per day as it transports water to its bottling facilities in Poland, Hollis and elsewhere.
The proposal in Lincoln comes as Poland Spring is planning to expand its water source facilities amid rising demand for bottled water. Nestle Waters hopes to build a $50 million bottling plant in western Maine, and several rural communities hit by the loss of jobs and revenue from traditional industry hope to land the facility.
“With the loss of five paper mills in three years, the region is hungry for making positive change in the economy,” Thomas Brennan, a Nestle Waters representative said. Poland Spring is among the top bottled water brands in the Northeast.
The company hasn’t yet decided where or when the plant would be built.
Groups, such as Protect Rumford Water Alliance, have expressed concern with the safety, environmental impact and financial cost of Poland Spring’s planned expansion in Maine.
Brennan defends the company’s record, saying it’s deeply invested in sustainable use of water.