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The Rural Maine Reporting Project is made possible through the generous support of the Betterment Fund.

Lincoln Water District moves to finalize long-term contract with Poland Spring

A large loon statue on the shore of Mattanawcook Pond in Lincoln.
Kaitlyn Budion
/
Maine Public
A large loon statue on the shore of Mattanawcook Pond in Lincoln.

The Lincoln Water District is looking to finalize a long-term contract with Poland Spring. But nearby residents say they have concerns about how it will affect the local water supply.

Seven years after the Maine Supreme Court upheld the long-term contract between Poland Spring and the Fryeburg Water Co., Poland Spring is again looking to make a similar agreement, this time in Lincoln.

The proposed contract runs for 20 years, with the possibility of five, five-year renewals, which could stretch the contract to 45 years total.

Under the contract, Poland Spring can withdraw up to 175 million gallons of water a year. The company will pay monthly rent for use of the property, and will pay for a minimum of 40 million gallons of water each year.

Lincoln resident Gordon Street said he's concerned about the local aquifer that the water district uses.

"I'm concerned that our water is being undervalued, that we may regret in the future that we didn't say, 'Wait a minute, let's protect and preserve this resource,'" Street said.

Street said he isn't entirely opposed to the contract. But he has concerns that the water district hasn't addressed.

Natalie DiPentino is also worried about protecting the aquifer, which provides water to her private well in Enfield.

"I would hope that they could consider the surrounding communities and other members in their own town that don't use this water district and what it means for them," DiPentino said.

Superintendent Jeffrey Day says the district has done impact studies on the aquifer, and that Poland Spring has been a good neighbor thus far.

Day also said revenue from the deal will benefit residential customers.

"The water district and our ratepayers come first," Day said. "Poland Spring comes second when it comes to water. They are benefiting us monetary-wise, to keep our rates down."

Because this is a renewal of the 2018 contract with Poland Spring, Day says the district does not have to hold a public hearing on the matter.

A final decision will be up to the Maine Public Utilities Commission, which is accepting public comments through July 14.

Kaitlyn Budion is Maine Public’s Bangor correspondent, joining the reporting team after several years working in print journalism.