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State regulators field comments regarding proposed water contract

By Erik Eisele
FRYEBURG — State regulators will be in town Thursday evening to gather input on a proposed contract between the Fryeburg Water Company and Nestle at a hearing that is sure to draw a crowd.
Officials from the Maine Public Utilities Commission will be at the Fryeburg Legion Hall at 6 p.m. "to hear citizen views on Fryeburg Water Company's proposal to lease one of its wells to Nestle Waters North America," the parent company of the Poland Spring brand, for 25 years.
The proposed agreement between the two companies first became public last summer, and since then it has been a lightning rod. Some are worried about the length of the agreement, which could be extended beyond 25 years; others are skeptical of any relationship with Nestle Company; some have raised objection to the entire concept of privatization and sale of a natural resource as important as water; others point out that Nestle's water purchase helps offset the cost of water for other rate payers.
Such divisions have come out during other public meetings, such as when the Fryeburg Water District met this winter, and the resulting debates at times got heated. It's likely every faction will be at the meeting Thursday.
Such opinions are exactly what officials are looking for, according to the Maine Public Utilities Commission.
"This public hearing will give the commission an opportunity to hear the views of citizens about the proposal," commission chair Thomas Welch said in a statement. "It is our job to decide whether the proposal is consistent with the interest of rate payers and we appreciate the public sharing their views."
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