AUGUSTA (AP) — The Maine Public Utilities Commission chairman is removing himself from a case involving the Fryeburg Water District and the company that owns Poland Spring bottled water.

Thomas Welch had come under pressure to recuse himself because he represented Nestle Waters North America, which owns Poland Spring, until his appointment to the PUC in 2011.

The Portland Press Herald says Welch’s move effectively suspends the case because the PUC now lacks a quorum to make a ruling. Fellow PUC Commissioner Mark Vannoy also recused himself because of previous ties with Nestle Waters.

The Fryeburg Water Co. is seeking PUC approval of a proposed 25-year contract with Nestle Waters. Opponents say the water district is selling the community short, giving up a valuable resource for much less than it’s worth.


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