FRYEBURG, Maine (AP) — Water rights activists on Saturday decried the potential sale of bottled water brand Poland Spring, saying the buyer identified in news reports represents a new threat to the state’s resources.
A crowd that organizers estimated reached about 100 gathered for the rally sponsored by Community Water Justice to express their worries.
Nickie Sekera, co-founder of the group, said she is worried that a private equity firm could be less responsive than Nestle, relieving the company of any accountability it promised to Maine communities.
Nestle has not been a good neighbor, “but at least a corporation like Nestle to a degree will be sensitive to bad public image,” she said.
Nestle announced in June that it was considering selling its bottled water brands in North America. In Maine, Nestle more than a half-dozen water sources and two bottling plants, employing 860 people.
Rally participants are worried about news reports suggesting the Swiss company was negotiating the potential sale with One Rock Capital Partners LLC, a New York-based private-equity firm.
Nestle declined to comment on negotiations. A spokesperson for One Rock didn’t return a message.
The brands to be sold include Deer Park, Ozarka, Ice Mountain, Zephyrhills and Arrowhead, in addition to Poland Spring.
Maulian Dana, Penobscot Nation tribal ambassador, said the Penobscot people “know how precious and life-giving water is for our tribal communities and the whole state.”
“We stand in opposition to the proposed action by Nestle and One Rock Capital Partners — and remind our friends and neighbors that water is life,” she said in a statement.