A truck that picked up around 7,000 gallons of water from Silver Lake in Bucksport delivers it to the Stonington Water Company on Sept. 19. Stonington has had to buy more than a million gallons of drinking water over the last two summers after drought cut into its supply and demand rose. Credit: Charlie Eichacker / Maine Public

Maine is generally thought of as having plenty of water. But officials could still be doing more to track the state’s water supply. That’s according to a new report that will soon be sent to the Legislature.

For years, there have been proposals to tax big companies that bottle Maine’s groundwater and sell it for a profit. Those proposals generally haven’t gone far in Maine’s legislature. But this year, lawmakers decided that they should at least study the issue.

So they formed a commission to look at Maine’s water resources. That commission held its final meeting on Thursday and will soon send its recommendations to the Legislature. The group included state and tribal officials, private citizens and representatives from businesses including Poland Spring.

In a draft report, the commission didn’t take a position on the bottled water tax, instead saying that the issue of water ownership needs further study and that a similar commission should be convened next year. But a majority of members did endorse testing the water that’s collected for bottling for PFAS chemicals.

The commission is also recommending that the state provide more drought assistance to farmers, collect better data on water extraction and make that data more accessible to the public. Currently, a variety of agencies collect that data in different ways, making it harder to compare how much is being used by different businesses and communities.

According to official estimates, Maine residents and businesses generally use less than 1 percent of the water that falls as rain or snow, then enters the groundwater. But certain areas of the state can be vulnerable to water shortages when drought and seasonal crowds arrive in summer.

This story appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.