Dover, NH –The citizen protest over the corporate extraction of local groundwater along the New Hampshire/Maine border is a good example of a “grassroots movement of people working to protect water from privatization,” according to Democratic Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich
Kucinich, long an advocate for public administration of the public water supply, is chairman the Domestic Policy Committee, a subcommittee of the House Oversight Committee. The committee will take testimony next week at a hearing "Assessing the Environmental Risks of the Water Bottling Industry's Extraction of Groundwater."
The protest, set for Saturday at 1 p.m. in Fryeburg, Maine, has been dubbed the "Fryeburg Tea Party." It is being organized by Howard Dearborn, 89, of Fryeburg, a local business owner who is concerned about potential damage to Lovewell Pond from the continued extraction of groundwater by the Nestle/Poland Spring bottling operation. Lovewell Pond, located near Fryeburg Village, is spring-fed by the Fryeburg aquifer.
“Millions of gallons of water are being extracted from our Fryeburg aquifer and being sold for their [Nestlé’s] profit,” Dearborn said. The company's announcement that it will give away cases of water on Saturday prompted Dearborn to respond with an offer to pay $10 for each free case of water residents bring to him.
“Then we’ll get together and pour every bottle back into the pond,” Dearborn said.
Kucinich will not be at the protest, but said “I strongly believe that public control and public administration of the public's water supply is the only way to guarantee the universal human right of access to clean water. Direct citizen participation should be encouraged when basic services such as water are being discussed.”
Kucinich's committee, meanwhile, has invited dedicated environmental activist and former Maine legislator Jim Wilfong -- who is working with Dearborn on the Saturday protest -- to testify during the upcoming hearing in Washington, which will examine the environmental issues presented when water bottling plants extract groundwater and spring water from water sources in rural communities.
Specifically, the hearing will address the broader policy context of the water bottling industry; the impact on communities of water bottling plants; the geological/hydrological dynamics and environmental effects of extraction on the surrounding watersheds, wetlands, and riparian systems; the growth, practices, and policies of the water bottling industry; and the adequacy of state property rights, state permitting systems, and federal regulations in addressing these issues.
Kucinich said the Fryeburg event, and similar actions by the New Hampshire-based Save Our Groundwater group, provide good opportunities to promote his 10 principles for water protection, called "Water Marks."
“All water shall be considered to be forever in the public domain.
“It shall be the duty of each nation to provide accessible, affordable drinking water.
“There shall be public ownership of drinking water.
“Wealthy nations shall provide poor nations with the means to obtain water for survival.
“Water shall be protected from commodification and exempted from all trade agreements.
“Water privatization shall not be a condition of debt restructuring, loan renewal, or loan forgiveness.
“Governments shall use their powers to prevent private aggregation of water rights.
“Water shall be conserved through sustainable agriculture and encouraging plant-based diets.
“Water resources shall be protected from pollution.
“Our children shall be educated about the essential nature of water for maintaining life.”
Kucinich urged those in the Fryeburg area to attend and support the event as a way to get involved in local environmental work.