H20 for ME, Maine's Water Dividend Trust

Press Release

Date: March 5, 2004
Subject: Citizen's Group Announces Maine's Water Dividend Trust Campaign Initiative
For Release: Immediately
Contact: Dick Dyer, APR (207) 377-3404
Cell: (207) 458-9458
AUGUSTA -- A citizen's initiative, headed by former Maine Legislator Jim Wilfong, is on its way to the Legislature according to plans announced today at the State House. The initiative is to be known as “Maine's Water Dividend Trust” because dividend income will be raised from charges on bottled water mined from Maine's many aquifers. These funds will be invested for the benefit of all Maine's people, especially Maine's younger citizens.
At the press conference held today, Wilfong said, “For nearly 35 years, Maine people have invested billions of dollars, privately and publicly, in the stewardship of our groundwater resource -- making sure it is as plentiful and pristine as the glaciers left it ten thousand years ago. In this century, water is to Maine in importance, as oil has been to Saudi Arabia in the last one. For years, companies have been making significant margins bottling free water for consumption around the world. It is now time for Maine people to receive a dividend from their equity in Maine.s groundwater.”
According to a release, the Trust would be funded by a .20 cent per gallon clean water reimbursement charge. Trust income would be used to reduce local property taxes, encourage small business/family farm development and to make long-term investments in education. The projected revenues for the first year are expected to reach $100 million dollars (based on an estimated one-half billion gallons of bottled water presently mined by commercial bottlers from Maine's groundwater inventory).
“The reasons for this initiative are many and include,” Wilfong added, “The need to strengthen Maine.s laws regarding the sustainability of our groundwater supplies and to compensate Maine taxpayers for their vision and financial commitment to preserve and protect Maine's fresh water.” Wilfong continued, “Our generation must use this water dividend to create an ongoing trust for our children and grandchildren that helps them to live in Maine and prepares them to compete and thrive in a global, knowledge-based economy. Mutually prosperous Maine communities, communities with a bright future and opportunity, will be built in part by a skilled workforce, innovative entrepreneurs, fishermen and family farmers. The Trust will invest in them and their ideas. Continued public and sustainable management of our most essential common resource, water, will work to the mutual benefit of Maine people and our corporate water partners. A water dividend will provide an expected return on investment at a time when it can be best put to work for all generations of Maine people.”
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