H20 for ME, Maine's Water Dividend Trust

Water And A Prosperous Maine Future

As Ben Franklin correctly points out, no one knows the true value of water until the well runs dry. Unless you have had to haul water to drink, cook and bathe, you can't begin to appreciate turning on the tap and always having water appear.

A citizen's initiative, headed by former Maine Legislator Jim Wilfong, is on its way to the Legislature and is aimed at recognizing the value of our fresh water and Maine's investment in its quality and availability. 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.

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 plans, the Trust would be funded by a 20 cent per gallon clean water reimbursement charge. The majority of the Trust will be invested within the State of Maine. We will be primarily investing in a balanced portfolio which will include loans to Maine's small businesses and for family farm development. Trust income would be used to pay each Maine resident income taxpayer a dividend for their investment in Maine's water. 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 citizen's initiative are many and include:
Strengthening Maine's laws regarding the sustainability of our groundwater supplies
Compensating Maine taxpayers for their vision and financial commitment to preserve and protect Maine's fresh water resource
Forming and funding a State Water Resources Conservation Commission
Creating an ongoing trust for our children and grandchildren that helps them to remain 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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