Poland Spring Natural Resource Manager Mark Dubois addresses selectmen March 1 on the company’s progress in installing test wells in Rumford. The company has a 15-year contract to extract 150 million gallons of water per year from Rumford Water District wells. (Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times)

RUMFORD — Poland Spring Water Co. has installed nine test wells so far this year and hopes to get the majority of them finished by early April, a company official told selectmen recently.

Mark Dubois, Poland Spring’s natural resource manager, gave the board an update March 1 under terms of the water extraction agreement with the Rumford Water District and the town.

The 15-year contract signed in August 2017 allows the company to draw up to 150 million gallons of water per year from two district wells in the Ellis River aquifer.

Poland Spring agreed to pay the district $400,000 per year in water and leasing rights, according to the agreement.

The agreement requires the company to invest at least $100,000 over the next three years to identify additional spring sources in and around Rumford. Dubois said the company has spent more than $60,000 on exploration drilling this year.

District Superintendent Brian Gagnon said at the signing that the deal will support investments in the district’s infrastructure and operations; provide a growing body of data of both the scope and nature of the Ellis River aquifer; and support a more stable rate structure for the district’s customers.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Jim Thibodeau said previously that renewal of the agreement is contingent upon getting a bottling plant.

A thorough examination of water quality, mineral content, water quantity and flow are needed to see if Poland Spring can sustainably source spring water from other nearby springs to help support the investment in a bottling facility in Rumford.

“Would you take as much water from a second spring site?” Selectman Mark Belanger asked.

“We’d have to do more testing on the spring site. We don’t know yet,” Dubois said.

Dubois also said the company is still evaluating its options with regard to the location of a fourth bottling facility in Maine.

He said he may have information on that to share at his next quarterly update to the board, which will take place in late May or early June, as determined by the select board’s schedule.

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