To whom does the water of the world belong?
I would say that it is in the hands of future generations. It is our responsibility now, to protect the future and to inform and educate our children on how to be active members of the community.
Here is one example of a boy, nine years of age, taking a stand for what he believes in. We could all learn something from him as he bravely testifies to the Maine Public Utilities commission regarding a proposed 45 year contract between the Fryeburg (Maine) Water Company and Nestle, for corporate large-scale water extraction from their aquifer.
Watch this and be inspired. There is so much hope for our future.
In the small town of Fryeburg, Maine, people of all ages have been coming together to support one another and to inform other citizens about the facts of the matter to get as many involved as possible.
Nickie Sekera is mother to Luke, the boy in the video. She is a Fryeburg local as well as a human rights activist. You can follow some of what she stands behind at The US Campaign for Burma Website.
Here, she explains the initial interest in the water issue:
“Luke is who lead me into the water issue. We have worked together on Human Rights causes his whole life, but when we began learning about the water situation in our own town, he had so many questions. His inquiry process brought us on this journey. The issue is real and at a close proximity—on a different level than advocating for others—we are advocating for ourselves and speaking our own truth and affects of personal experience instead of amplifying the voice of others. It is important to learn to do both.”
Here, she explains the feelings of the community quite eloquently:
“Essentially, we are concerned that the presence of the largest food and beverage corporation in the world’s presence in our town with so much control is not good for us local citizens. To whom does the water of the world belong? Water should not be a commodity but protected under a public trust – as a life-giving resource and critical part of our commons -for humans and all living things. Corporations care about growing profits and shareholders demand growth for a return on their investment. Capitalism as it exists is the biggest looming threat to our environment. We are hard placed to operate from a conservation and preservation point with this capitalist trajectory. We are on a planet of finite resources and capital growth exploiting resources paints the future in grim hues… Water, I feel, is the part of the commons that we must stand for and protect post haste. If we do it strongly, lovingly and unflinchingly with intent we will demand that our sources stay clean and hold accountable all that threatens it. A way of working backward to all industry that does harm with impunity… just a dream… but ours to make real.”
Here are more facts about the contract:
- The length is for 25 years, with option for four and five year extensions for a total of 45 years with no public input. There is no process outlined in granting the extensions.
- Nestle is the only allowed purchaser of bulk water in the proposed contract.
(Consider: By being tied to Nestle for 45 years, the FWC has lost a very valuable competitive advantage. In most other states water is becoming scarcer which the FWC could use to its advantage in negotiating bulk water sales with other large purchasers.)
- The annual minimum extraction is 75 million gallons. There is no upper limit in the terms.
- Nestle can terminate this contract in two years while the Fryeburg Water Company must give five years notice.
(Consider: Imbalanced giving advantage to the more powerful.)
- Nestle’s bulk extraction can not be reduced or suspended for “no greater duration and to no greater extent, than what Fryeburg Water Company suspends or reduces its water sales to (local) commercial and industrial customers.”
(Consider: While Nestle can easily extract water from its other worldwide sources, where will Fryeburg’s businesses get their water? This deal grossly favors Nestle, which does not reside locally, over the local businesses the Fryeburg Water Company is supposed to serve.)
- Nestle will pay the same tariff rates as the local customers.
(Consider: Nestle gets its water from all of well #1 and most of well #2. These wells are designated “spring water.” The local rate payers can get some water from well #2, and all of well #3. Well #3 is not designated as spring water and is near old industrial sites. There is obvious economic value to spring water and Nestle has to receive significant value from advertising and using this asset. The local rate payers are subject to the same rate scale, but don’t get valuable “spring water.” For example, if a micro brewery wanted to start up in Fryeburg it could not gain the economic benefit of advertising that it brewed with “spring water” but it would be subject to the same rate structure as Nestle.)
All of this information has been graciously provided by the Community Water Justice Team. Community Water Justice’s purpose is to bring awareness to water issues related to the greater community of the Fryeburg area. They seek to achieve this goal through education and honest information for all, because behind the fight for water is the struggle for democracy.
May this inspire you to be informed and active in your community. It is up to us to inspire future generations.
Nichole Gould is the founder of Barefoot Warrior Yoga in The White Mountains of New Hampshire. As a Student of life, yogini, yoga teacher, landscape gardener, single mother, organic pizza waitress and lover of all board sports, she considers herself a jack of much and a master of none. She can also be found dabbling with guitar playing, singing off key, reading from her many stacks of books or writing poetry. Feel feel to peruse her Facebook page or contact her via her website for more insight into her ever curious mind.
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Ed: Brianna Bemel