BROWNFIELD, Maine — Residents will vote at a special town meeting today at 7 p.m. at the community center on whether to put a moratorium on large-scale water extraction. 

The moratorium would last for 180 days, backdated to the "date of applicability," which is Sept. 15, in order to prevent a water extractor from being approved under the old ordinance.

Thais Lovering, who organized the petition to have the town meeting, said: "We do have (an ordinance) written in 2004, but in May of this year Nestle started a campaign to have us change it to make it easier for them to come in and extract water for longer periods of time.

"Many residents are against this idea, and we are working to create a stronger ordinance with more defined protections and which would create a more equitable relationship with any large-scale water extractor in the future," Lovering said.

Upon being drafted, a new ordinance would have to be approved by selectmen, the planning board, the town attorney and voters. 

Nestle does not extract water from Brownfield but does from nearby Fryeburg and Denmark, Maine. 

Earlier this fall, Poland Spring stated, through its spokesperson Jennifer Burke, that it does support updating Brownfield’s groundwater extraction ordinance "to better align with ordinances established in other Maine communities.

"The key change we recommend is to eliminate the one-year permit renewal, which is prohibitive to long-term, local investment. Instead, other towns have used a conditional use permit process.

"This change would preserve local control but would make it possible for companies to make more long-term business investments that could benefit the communities in which they operate."

The petition says: 

"This Moratorium Ordinance is adopted for the purpose of providing the Town of Brownfield with sufficient time to review its existing ordinances, to determine the implications of foreseeable or anticipated Large-Scale Water Extraction Activity, and to develop and implement adequate ordinance amendments to govern the safe location, design and operation of Large-Scale Water Extraction Activity in the Town, to protect the Town’s natural resources, to protect the safety and welfare of residents of the Town, and to prevent the over-burdening of Town roads, bridges and other Town infrastructure."

The definition of large-scale water extraction activity is "more than 1,000 gallons of groundwater or spring water per day at any site in the town of Brownfield for commercial sale or use." 

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