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Water wars go underground

Hiking in Maine’s Vernon Walker Wildlife Preserve in 2006, Ann Wentworth stumbled upon one of 16 test wells dug there without public knowledge by the Nestle Corporation. She alerted the two adjoining rural communities, Newfield and Shapleigh, where residents were inflamed by the company’s plans to pump away large quantities of local groundwater, bottling and selling it under the Poland Spring brand and other labels.

    In March 2009, the towns blocked Nestle, passing ordinances granting citizens the right to protect their groundwater resources and prohibiting corporate water extraction. That same month, however, citizens in nearby Fryeburg, Maine lost a four-year fight against a Poland Spring pumping station that now will ship 50 truckloads of groundwater daily from their small, rural community.

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