Poland Spring owner Nestle’s plan to draw up to 172 million gallons per year from a well in Lincoln received the blessing of utility regulators who deemed Tuesday that such a deal wouldn’t harm other customers of the Lincoln Water District.
Nestle wants to fill about 100 tankers per day and haul the water from Lincoln to bottling plants in Poland; Hollis; Kingfield; Framingham, Massachusetts; and other bottling facilities, according to its permit request.
The company and water district said that quantity of water roughly equals what the shuttered Lincoln Paper and Tissue mill drew annually from the Lincoln Water District’s Well No. 4.
The Maine Public Utilities Commission agreed with that conclusion Tuesday, with the remaining two members of the shorthanded three-seat commission voting to send a letter with their ruling to officials who oversee Maine’s drinking water.
The company’s project would take water from the Lincoln Water District’s Well No. 4 and transfer it a half-mile through an underground pipeline to a loading facility on Route 2, where tankers would pick up the water to transport to bottling facilities.
The company has considered locating a new bottling facility nearby in Lincoln, which it said would likely come after two years of initial operations trucking that water to other bottling plants.
The loss of the Lincoln mill cost the water district $152,000 annually. It’s not clear how much of that money the Poland Spring deal would replace, as the permit request does not outline the financial terms of the potential extraction deal.
The manager of the project for Poland Spring was not immediately available for comment Tuesday morning.
The company’s extraction efforts have sparked controversy around the state, as environmental advocates and others worry about the impact of such extraction deals on local groundwater.
With the blessing of utilities regulators, the extraction permit requires final approval from the Maine Drinking Water Program.