On Nov. 4, we have an opportunity to improve the quality and reliability of the state’s drinking water systems. Referendum Question 4 includes a request for $1.2 million to construct drinking-water system improvements that address public health threats and to provide the state match for $4 million in federal funds.

The monies are administered via the state’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. Water systems can access this fund for low interest loans to finance capital improvements and the purchase of land and conservation easements, in order to protect drinking water sources. A portion of the fund is used to train system operators, to provide staff to implement new federal requirements and to increase public awareness and involvement.

Water systems in Lisbon, Bowdoinham, Canton, at Frye Island and in other communities throughout the state have projects on the drawing board, awaiting approval and funding. Their consumers will benefit, if the referendum passes.

The majority of water systems in Maine were constructed at the turn of the century. There is a great need to replace aging water mains, storage facilities and other system components. The purchase of land and improvement of treatment facilities will enable the systems to meet future drinking water quality standards.

We encourage Maine voters to make a prudent investment in public health. Vote yes on Referendum Question 4.

Jeffrey McNelly, executive director, Maine Water Utilities Association, Waldoboro

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