Maine Groundwater Extraction Initiative (2009)

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The Maine Groundwater Extraction initiated state statute was approved for circulation in Maine for the November 2009 ballot.

Summary

The initiative failed to meet signature requirements for the 2008 ballot and was approved for circulation for the 2009 ballot. If the initiated bill had made it to the ballot and been approved by voters, it would have:

  • Defined "traditional use" of groundwater as the extraction of groundwater from under a person's property for final consumption on that property and the extraction of groundwater by any water district exclusively for the purpose of supplying the water to customers who will consume that water on the customers' own property. Groundwater use that does not come under this definition is defined as "nontraditional use."
  • Established the Freshwater Resource Board, and direct the board to:
  • A. Take all reasonable measures to ensure an adequate supply of usable groundwater for the people of the State;
  • B. Ensure that the quality of groundwater is protected;
  • C. Monitor the levels of sustainability of groundwater and protect against uses of groundwater that are detrimental to aquifers, bodies of surface water or wetlands or to the public health, safety and general welfare; and
  • D. Provide funds for infrastructure investment to municipalities over and bordering an aquifer zone when the board determines such funds to be necessary.
  • Authorized the board to hire staff, establish offices and take all other reasonable administrative steps to carry out its duties.
  • Authorized the board to levy a fee on every gallon of water extracted for nontraditional use in order to raise funds to carry out the board’s duties.
  • Provided that a person who uses groundwater for a traditional use holds the first right to use that groundwater.
  • Created a cause of action and allows a person to initiate an action for equitable relief or an action in tort to recover damages, or both, for unreasonable harm caused by another person withdrawing, diverting or altering the character or quality of groundwater.
  • Specified that a corporation that is owned in whole or in part by a corporation located outside the United States is allowed the same right to groundwater for nontraditional use as is a domestic corporation upon a demonstration that it and its subsidiaries are not involved in terrorist activities.
  • Directed the Freshwater Resource Board to study whether the public trust doctrine applicable to great ponds and tidal rivers should be applied to groundwater and to study methods to allocate the nontraditional use of water when the board finds that, to ensure sustainability of the water supply, nontraditional use must be limited.

Read the complete bill at Groundwater Extraction Bill.

External links

See also