Rural Maine residents divided as spring-water bottler moves in

An international corporation descending on a rural town, bent on extracting natural resources. Africa? South America? Nope: New England. Nestlé Waters North America Inc., purveyors of Poland Spring water, is prospecting for new sources of “blue gold” in the western Maine wilderness. Some fear the pumping and trucking will strain the underground water supply and ruin the area’s tourism-friendly peace and scenic beauty. But with the area’s historic mill economy declining sharply, others say the region can’t make it on tourism alone — and a new bottling plant could create 200 jobs. A petition campaign to tax bottlers 20 cents for each gallon extracted has gathered enough signatures to put it on the statewide ballot. It could mean hundreds of millions in revenue — but Poland Spring says it may leave Maine if the measure passes.