STOW, Maine — A proposal to ban commercial water extraction will be presented for public discussion by the planning board at 6 p.m. at Stow Town Hall today.
“We are going to talk about this and see where it goes,” planning board chairman Steven Dupuis told the Sun in a phone interview last week, adding that the date for a firm vote on such an ordinance has not been established.
If residents are interested in pursuing the proposed ordinance, a vote could take place as soon as January, at the March annual meeting or at a special meeting at some other time, said Dupuis, adding that tonight’s meeting would be to get a sense of what residents want to do.
“It’s very basic,” said Dupuis. “Zero water extraction means zero water extraction.”
The town’s public notice said the proposed ordinance would be “prohibiting commercial water extraction within the town of Stow, Maine.”
Stow is a small town of about 24 square miles in Oxford County, Maine located to the east of Chatham and north of Fryeburg, Maine.
According to Wikipedia, as of 2010, it had a population of 385.
The advantage to holding a special town meeting is that people can concentrate on the issue at hand. At annual town meetings, there could be dozens of items to consider.
Dupuis said residents with all points of view are welcome. He also said people from other towns may attend but would have to have the permission of the planning board to speak.
The reason behind the proposed ordinance is that access to clean water is necessary for everyone, said Dupuis, adding that commercial extraction could diminish residents’ access.
Some towns in the region have been targeted for commercial water extraction.
Poland Spring, owned by Nestle, extracts water from Fryeburg. It also has expressed interest in extracting water from Brownfield, which shares Ward’s Brook Aquifer with Fryeburg and Denmark.
In August, Brownfield voters passed a water extraction ordinance that set a 20,000-gallon-per-day limit.
Dupuis said Stow’s proposed ordinance is an attempt to be pro active, he said, confirming the town is not under threat of water extraction at the present time.
Dupuis said a lot of community members approached him about the proposal and said he hopes there are going to be enough chairs.
If enough community members feel they need a further opportunity to discuss the issue, another meeting could be held, Dupuis said.