Do you favor a $10,000,000 bond issue for the following purposes: (1) $8,000,000 to construct water pollution control facilities, providing the state match for $10,000,000 in federal funds; and (2) $2,000,000 to address environmental health deficiencies in drinking water supplies?
Part of a continuing investment in the quality of the Maine environment, the largest share of this bond, $8 million, will be combined with federal funds to pay for expansion or upgrading of waste water treatment plants.
In the past 30 years, the state and its communities have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up residential and commercial sewage and waste. The results have been spectacular on Maine’s rivers. The benefits are obvious. The cost, however, is significant. This bond will continue that work, and make it more affordable in key areas.
This bond is the first in three years to provide funds for construction and expansion of large centralized sewage treatment facilities. The $4 million for this purpose isn’t nearly enough to significantly ease the financial pain on most municipalities, but it will help by reducing the amount some towns or districts will have to borrow to finance construction.
Revolving loan programs under the aegis of the state have worked well in Maine. This bond issue will create one for communities and districts that must improve their water systems to comply with the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act. The $2 million from Question 7 will be combined with federal funds to make loans, at no interest, for these local projects.
Proponents of the bond issue point out that more than 800 public water systems in Maine may be eligible to apply for these loans next year. The challenge to the state will be to devise a system of its own for filtering these requests and funding them in order of priority.
An additional $1 million from the bond will be distributed through the Small Community Grants Program. This will help sparsely populated Maine communities, where central collection and treatment plants are impractical, target their help to specific homes and businesses. Last year, 247 individual systems were built with these funds.
The bond also provides $1 million to pump up the Overboard Discharge Program that replaces commercial and residential systems that pollute coastal drainage areas and shellfish beds. This program can transform these areas, making them productive for shellfish harvesting and pollution free.
Maine voters have seen previous bond issues similar to Question 7. They have been approved. This one also deserves a YES vote.