Voting "yes" on Question 5 in November will create jobs, improve the quality of drinking water and protect the environment.
Maine is blessed with abundant and high quality drinking water supplies. These resources are well managed by a network of independent water utilities around the state, some for more than a century. Safe drinking water is ensured by a thorough system of laws and regulations. In Maine, these rules are administered by the Maine Drinking Water Program.
The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund administered by the DWP and Clean Water State Revolving Fund administered by the Department of Environmental Protection were created by the federal government to provide affordable funding for public health and water quality improvement projects. Since 1997, the DWSRF has invested $179 million in Maine public water systems.
In order to qualify for the federal funds, Maine must provide a 20 percent match annually. Question 5 on the Nov. 6 ballot provides the 20 percent match for the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds for two years.
This $7.9 million bond referendum, if approved, will allow Maine to access nearly $40 million in federal matching funds. Funds for capital upgrades will be available to water and wastewater systems at a reduced interest rate. If the match is not approved, the federal dollars will be forfeited and local ratepayers and taxpayers will need to pay the higher cost of conventional loans.
The infrastructure projects that are supported by this funding mechanism provide jobs for Maine people.
Tom Brennan, Yarmouth
Chairman, Maine Public Drinking Water Commission