Eldred residents see bottled water documentary
The recently formed grassroots group, The Concerned Citizens of Eldred Township, held a screening of the documentary "Bottled Life" for the residents of Eldred Township Friday night.
This group is working diligently to keep Nestle Waters NA out of their small, rural town.
The documentary was released in January of 2012 by Swiss film company, Doklab. The film follows Nestle throughout the world to a number of its water extraction sites. The film is a scathing condemnation of the company's practice of extracting water at almost no cost and reselling it at a huge profit.
"Nestle is a hunter," says Maude Barlow, former senior adviser on water to the United Nations, in the film. "They come in, they drain an aquifer and move on. They are predators looking for the last, pure water."
Barlow and the film's producers dismiss Nestle's claims that the company is interested in more than profit.
"Don't let them fool you," Barlow said. "They are in this business to make money."
The film's producers claim that Nestle purchased the property in Kingsfield, Maine. They extract water and the film says a truck load of water costs them as little as $10 per load, while Nestle will earn $50,000 on each load.
Nestle refused to be interviewed or to cooperate with the film's production. In an online response entitled, "Bottled Life, Our position," Nestle claims that it did not believe that the documentary would show them in a truthful light.
"…we decided not to engage in dialogue as we were under the strong impression that the film would be one-sided and not represent Nestle and its employees in a fair manner.
"The completed film unfortunately confirms this initial impression. Indeed, the content is mostly misinformation and lacks objectivity. Nestle has always been committed to managing water resources in a responsible manner."
The film depicts Nestle's actions in Africa and Pakistan, as well as its Poland Springs operations in Maine.
Nestle has recently built its largest bottling plant in Hollis, Maine. Poland Spring water comes from a number of towns in Maine. According to the film, the original Poland Spring, also referred to by the company as "the source," had been depleted and no longer is used for extraction.
The film also documents the story of the small town in Maine that fought Nestle and won.
Shapleigh, Maine, is served by an aquifer that runs through a preserve. Nestle was granted permission to place test wells on the preserve to monitor the rate of flow and quality of the water, much like what Nestle is doing in Kunkletown.
Residents of Shapleigh were not satisfied with trying to regulate Nestle through zoning and permitting regulations.
A group of residents found a law which allowed them to hold their own town meetings and allowed them to legally adopt an ordinance which includes a water rights article entitled, "Shapleigh Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance."
Shapleigh's ordinance was upheld in court and Nestle was required to remove the test wells.
After viewing the documentary, many of the residents expressed interest in working with the group and offered to help spread the word.
Nestle hydrogeologist Eric Andreus had been invited to attend but was unable due to family obligations.
Township Supervisor Mary Ann Clausen did attend the screening.
"I really just came to see the movie and to hear what the people thought and had to say," Clausen said.
"The more we voice our wishes, the more people will know how we feel and that we are not happy about this plan," said Dawn Barankovich of The Concerned Citizens of Eldred Township.
The group is working to make sure that everyone in town is aware of what is going on. They have an email address for residents to sign up for which will blast information out to everyone on the mailing list. The email address is TCCET@yahoo.com. The group also has a Facebook Page.
One resident posted on the Facebook page Thursday, "Am I missing something here … I need to get a permit from the township to put a simple 12 X 12 sign in my yard, but Nestle/Deer Park can drill 10-12 test wells and no permit is required…what am I missing?"
The Eldred Township board of supervisors will hold a public meeting with Phil Getty, the township hydrogeologist at 7:30 p.m. today at the Kunkletown Volunteer Fire Company. The purpose is to disseminate information to and answer questions from the residents of Eldred Township in relation to proposed water extraction within the township.