ANDOVER — About 80 people attended a meeting at the Town Hall on Tuesday evening to listen to Poland Spring Bottling Co. geologist Mark Dubois explain the company’s investigation of Ellis River springs for water extraction.

Andover Water District trustees Brad Thibodeau, Gary Peaslee and Peggy Madigan asked Dubois to address Andover residents’ concerns about Rumford Water District’s possible sale of water from Milligan Well on Route 5 in Rumford.

At a recent Andover selectmen meeting, resident Pete Coolidge was concerned that the water volume and the number of trucks needed to handle the water would have an impact on Andover residents.

“It’s important to know that we at Poland Spring only use water that is designated as spring water. The aquifers must be actually overflowing into the Ellis so we can visibly see springs,” Dubois said.

Along with testing the quantity and quality of water in the aquifer, as well as springs that are adjacent to the Ellis River, the company will also be examining the water flow into the river and the habitat as well, he said.

Dubois said that if the project was a sustainable operation and was to proceed, the Department of Environmental Protection would also be interested in the river’s flow and habitat, and in “maintaining good spring flow to feed bugs, mayflies, and fish that are existing in the stream as well.”

He reiterated that the company is still only in the testing stage and that they “have a big decision to make at the end, as part of our testing, which is yes or no: Can we withdraw water sustainably there and maintain spring flow, and that question won’t be answered until later on in the year.”

Andover resident Keith Farrington asked about Gardiner Brook, near his home, and whether the company would monitor it or not. He said his well at home is shallow.

Dubois told him that they were monitoring the area around the spring and took down his name and address, along with other residents who had questions about how they might be affected.

Rumford resident Craig Zurhorst said the “roads are not built for heavy traffic,” and Dubois responded that the company would not run its trucks on town roads.

Nancy Conway from Hollis interrupted him, saying, “You run all over the place in Hollis.”

Vera Littlefield of Hollis said the water levels in Hollis were lower and the roads in Hollis were damaged by the Poland Spring trucks on them.

Esau Cooper of Andover asked if the company would provide any permanent long-term jobs for local people, and Dubois said that truck driver jobs would be available.

Dubois said the benefits of the water extraction sale would be in revenue, community benefits, and about six jobs in transportation. Poland Springs currently has 900 jobs statewide for all operations in Maine. 

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