RUMFORD — The Poland Spring Bottling Co., which is exploring spring water sources on Rumford Water District land, is holding a public informational meeting Wednesday.

It will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Rumford Falls Auditorium. Representatives from Poland Spring will discuss research underway to explore options to sustainably expand their business and invest in Rumford.

Topics will include:

• What Poland Spring looks for in a spring site;

• Equipment used to test the spring source;

• Timing for evaluation and testing;

• Next steps and a potential schedule, should Poland Spring and the Rumford Water District decide to enter into a water supply agreement.

At the July 6 meeting of the Rumford Water District board of trustees, Superintendent Brian Gagnon said in a written statement, “The company requested our permission to research spring water sources on land owned by the Rumford Water District. We have agreed to allow Poland Spring to conduct the necessary research to explore a potential partnership and are awaiting Poland Spring’s findings, which will likely be finalized in a few months. Currently, Poland Spring is testing the water for flow, quantity and quality, among other things.”

If an appropriate spring source is identified, whether and how the Water District might make beneficial arrangements with Poland Spring has not yet been determined, but will be the subject of extensive discussions in the months to come, he said.

Gagnon said one option is that Poland Spring could lease the spring from the Rumford Water District and become the district’s customer, so that we would retain ownership over the water source. They would purchase the water at the district’s water rate like other large business customers of the district.

“No matter, however, what the other terms might be, we would insist upon the right to shut off Poland Spring in an emergency to ensure that we could meet our obligation to supply our other customers and comply with our permits,” he said.

“An agreement to sell water to Poland Spring, if done right, could prove to be beneficial to our town,” Gagnon said. “Rumford faces significant challenges due to our aging drinking water infrastructure. A significant portion of our town’s water mains are over 100 years old. Improvements are necessary but those updates will be costly.”

“An agreement with Poland Spring would provide the district with a new revenue system that could help offset the costs of updating our aged pipes,” he said. “Given the economic challenges our community faces, the district trustees feel that we need to at least do our research and explore the possibility of working with Poland Spring.”

Gagnon said Poland Spring will “share its findings with us and if it decides to pursue an agreement, there will be ample opportunity for the public is provide us with input on the process.”

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