Those who are opposed to the idea of Poland Spring exploring a new spring source in Rumford need to do a little more research. This potential business venture in Rumford does not pose a threat to the local water supply — or anywhere else the company operates for that matter. Poland Spring is a valued, environmentally respectful member of the Maine business community; yet, it is always an easy target for criticism.
Much of that criticism has come from out-of-state activists who are against bottled water — period. They are not truly concerned about Maine’s water supply or Rumford residents. Frankly, they’re not really interested in Maine’s welfare at all, just in their own agenda. And it is an agenda that does not have a basis in fact.
Bottling water for human consumption does not threaten groundwater levels or our water supply. It uses a tiny fraction of a renewable natural resource to create a product that is good for people.
In Maine, where we are blessed with an abundance of pure water (even in a dry year like the one we are going through now), bottled water is a responsible industry that generates tax and fee revenues to support public services while creating living-wage jobs.
Poland Spring is a shining example of how water bottlers can contribute to this state. Now a part of the Nestle Company, Poland Spring has a 170-year history in the state of Maine. It is a homegrown success story, supporting 800 full- and part-time jobs. Its payroll tops $42 million a year; it offers its Maine workers full health and retirement benefits (in addition to perks such as tuition reimbursement and profit sharing), and it spends around $60 million a year with local Maine vendors, suppliers and other business partners. My Maine construction company, Cianbro, has done business with Poland Spring for years and has had nothing but good experiences with it.
In addition, Poland Spring is committed to improving the quality of life in Maine. During recent years, it has contributed more than $6 million to various local causes through its Good Neighbor Grant program and has donated 500,000 bottles of its product. Its employees are active in volunteer work, and the company invests heavily in environmental education through partnerships with a variety of local organizations.
Just think about the benefits a local partnership in Rumford could bring to a service organization in need.
In short, Poland Spring is the kind of company that is nice to have in Maine, especially now, as the state’s economy continues to under perform. In 2014, Maine ranked 47th in the nation in economic growth — dead last in New England. A recent study, Measure of Growth 2016, finds that the state’s crumbling infrastructure, lagging investments in R&D, and below-par academic performance continue to hold back the Maine economy.
Strong companies such as Poland Spring are needed to support public revenues and job creation that will give current job seekers a shot at providing for their families and offer future generations of Mainers more employment opportunities here, instead of forcing them to look for careers in other states.
Time after time, independent research has shown that bottling water has no tangible effect on water supplies. Mainers who care about their state — not only the natural environment, but the economic climate as well — need to stand up for Poland Spring and its continued contributions to the state’s economy and communities.
Peter Vigue is chairman and CEO of the Cianbro companies.