Poland Spring is important to Maine’s environment and economy
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Julia Muncie is President and CEO of the Maine Chamber of Commerce.
Since its founding in 1889, the Maine Chamber of Commerce has grown to be the largest business association in Maine, today representing a network of 5,000 businesses of all sizes and sectors in every region of Maine. The Chamber’s work is centered around the mission of promoting a positive business climate; strengthening Maine’s economy, workforce, and competitiveness; and attract more employers and individuals to Maine.
There is a lot of positive news about Maine being a great place to live, work, and do business. Talking about those is the most important thing we do in the room.
Another part of our role is to support Maine businesses when they encounter challenges, particularly in the Maine Legislature.
One of Maine’s most well-known brands – Natural Spring Water Bottler Poland Spring, which has a 178-year heritage in Maine, is currently facing a number of bills that will severely restrict its business and availability of its products. One proposal is essentially a de facto ban on bottled water in retail establishments while another restricts Poland Spring from partnering with local water authorities.
One bill, LD 854, will only levy water withdrawal tax on Poland Spring, because of its size, and not any other bottled water company. This proposed tax, totaling $50 million annually, would be equivalent to nearly the entire Maine payroll of Poland Spring’s 900 employees—leaving the company’s future in Maine and the very existence of these clean, well-paying manufacturing jobs highly uncertain.
At Maine’s State House and beyond, it’s important to understand that Poland Spring, like all water bottlers, is highly regulated at the local, state, and federal levels. Poland Spring is permitted by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and regulated by the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the state drinking water program, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Water Act in the United States.
It should also be noted that all of the water bottlers in Maine combined account for less than 1 percent of the water drawn from Maine.
LD 854 distinguishes a sustainable business in Maine that, at its core, is a highly responsible water steward.
Poland Spring’s experienced and dedicated team of scientists constantly and carefully monitors all 10 springs to ensure that the water withdrawals are sustainable and do not harm the environment. Spring Poland – and Maine’s economy – depends on a healthy, thriving environment.
Since its founding in 1845, Poland Spring has been instrumental in expanding Maine’s economy, creating jobs and driving future growth. The Poland Spring factory in Kingfield is a great example of how investing in a bottling plant can add vitality to the community, creating well-paying jobs with benefits and steady tax revenue for the city.
Additionally, over the past decade, Poland Spring has donated more than $10 million to support education, conservation, and other local causes in Maine communities, including the School of the Environment and the Dempsey Center. Last year, Poland Spring donated 1 million water bottles and $1 million to nonprofits in need in Maine. This is exactly the kind of business we want in Maine – the kind that gives a favor.
The Chamber is proud to represent and stand behind Poland Spring, its exemplary environmental stewardship, and its enormous contributions to the economy and communities of Maine.
The Maine State Chamber strongly urges Maine legislators to oppose LD 854 and all other bills that would adversely affect Poland Spring, the livelihoods of 900 Maine employees, and our state’s economy. As a country, we must do everything we can to support the great businesses we have here as Poland Spring and to strengthen Maine’s reputation as a great place to live, work, and do business.