Drinkin' problem

Politics and other mistakes
By AL DIAMON  |  September 10, 2008

No more local beer.

It pains me to write that, but it must be done. We’ve got to kill off Maine’s brewing industry for the greater good.

There’s more. Those people making potato vodka have to close their doors. The state’s wineries must be shut down, too. And that’s only the beginning. Because this isn’t about alcohol.

It’s about water.

To counteract a looming environmental threat to our aquifers, we have to eliminate not only our native booze, but also our farms, ski areas, golf courses, and paper mills. As for other businesses, unless they agree to severe restrictions, they’ll also have to call it quits.

Even these draconian measures won’t be sufficient to preserve the state’s fragile groundwater. That’s because the biggest consumer of Maine moisture is not corporations, but people. The average grubby Mainer uses about 50 gallons of water a day, mostly for personal hygiene. That comes to 65 million gallons daily, just to keep us from being stinky.

On the bright side, once we’ve limited hand washing to once a day, bathing to once a week, and toilet flushing to once a month, a lot of obsessive-compulsive types will leave the state. Probably won’t be anybody left at the Christian Civic League.

Unfortunately, even the complete depopulating of Maine won’t solve the problem. The average birch tree soaks up 70 gallons of water daily. The only answer to that is complete defoliation. And while we’re at it, moose, squirrels, deer, and bears will have to take a hike across the nearest border. Otherwise, they’d only engage in unsustainable levels of consumption.

Think I’m overreacting?

If so, I’m not alone. The state is infested with loud-mouthed water wackos. Which could be a good thing. They’re probably adding a million gallons a year to our groundwater with all the spittle they spew.

I just hope none of it gets in my well.

Hydro-hysteria has reached epidemic proportions in Maine, with its latest manifestation being groups with names like Save Our H2O, Take Back The Tap, and Defending Water For Life, which are urging municipalities across the state to pass moratoriums on the sale of public water to commercial enterprises. Their focus is on halting expansion by Poland Spring, because, well ... er ... just because.

“We should be outraged!” Jonathan Carter wrote in a Green Independent Party publication a couple of years ago. “It is our water. Nestle [the owner of Poland Spring] must be stopped from stealing it.”

Carter is a former Green gubernatorial candidate, and no enviro-fringe campaign is complete without him. In a long and mostly unsuccessful political career, he’s never been tempted to let reality alter his judgment. But on the off chance the rest of the wet brains in this movement have more sense, let’s try a few facts.

Poland Spring uses about 500 million gallons of water a year. The company doesn’t steal it. It pays for it. Maybe it doesn’t pay enough in some cases, but you can’t blame the business if the other side uses lousy negotiators.

As water consumers, Poland Spring — and all the other water bottlers in the state — rank well behind agriculture (700-800 million gallons per year), ski resorts (500-600 million), and water utilities (35 billion) in the amount they soak up. And all those users combined don’t make much of a dent in the 5 trillion gallons that dribble into our groundwater annually from the 24 trillion gallons of rainfall we receive.

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  Topics: News Features , Christian Civic League, Jonathan Carter
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