CANTON – Real estate investor Robert Spencer of Auburn advised selectmen Thursday night of a proposal to extract 400,000 gallons of drinking water daily from Childs Brook, which could possibly generate more than $1 million a year for the town.

Spencer said he is working with two people in the bottled water business in regards to the idea. He has done some engineering on Thorne Mountain and Childs Brook, he said.

If he can get 400,000 gallons of water a day from the brook, he said, he would consider leasing to purchase 600-plus acres on Thorne Mountain.

The three-mile-long brook is a tributary to Whitney Brook, which runs from Lake Anasagunticook to the Androscoggin River.

It would take time to lease the land, set up the 1.5 million gallon reservoirs, and install pipes and roads, Spencer said. The entrance to the site would be on Route 108.

The water removal rights could generate more than $1 million a year for the town, he said.

The town budget is about $1,200,000, according to Administrative Assistant Kathy Hutchins.

It would probably be 2010 before the town realized the income.

Spencer wanted to know if there would be any philosophical objections from the town to taking water from the brook because if so the project might not be feasible.

Selectmen’s Chairman Scotty Kilbreth asked if the business would create jobs.

Spencer said they would have 40 to 60 trailer loads of water leaving the site every day and most of the jobs would be in transportation. There might be as many as 80 wells and some people would be needed there.

The audience of 25, who had been sitting in stunned silence as Spencer outlined the possibility of the water extraction business, had a few questions.

Several wanted to know if hunting on the mountain and fishing in the brook would still be allowed or would the area be fenced.

Spencer said that hunting shouldn’t be a problem though he didn’t clearly answer the question on fishing.

Spencer also said developers would not clear-cut the mountain, but would allow the town to selectively cut several acres and sell the wood to people in need.

The Planning Board will have the final say on the issue and Spencer will schedule a meeting with the board soon.

Selectmen decided they could hold a straw vote on Election Day, Nov. 4, to see what people thought of the idea.

In other news, a letter was read from a resident on Main Street who said a dog was continually barking so they could not enjoy sitting outside. The board will send the landowner a letter concerning the complaints.

Jeanette Ouellette was appointed to the Budget Committee.

Road Foreman Randy Scrivner is asking for a part-time employee to help him plow roads this winter. He is also asking for bids on sand. He reported that he had locked in a price with Morton’s for salt at $85 a ton. This is up from $50 a ton last year.


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