News Feature | May 12, 2014

Maine Considers Major Water Funding Measure

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

The Maine legislature is drafting a measure that would provide millions of dollars for water infrastructure projects. 

The bill is known as "An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Ensure Clean Water and Safe Communities." 

"While the Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs continues to work on the bill, the basic details are that the bond could be for as much as $50 million, with the money triggering a $25 million federal match," WCSH reported

Scott Lever, chief Legal Officer with the Associated General Contractors of Maine, is advocating on behalf of the bill. 

"Lever says those funds would be used to improve built infrastructure such as culverts and stream crossings, make improvements to the state's natural infrastructure through wetlands and water quality projects, and lead to upgrades and repairs to waste water treatment facilities and water mains," the report said. 

GrowSmart Maine, an advocacy group for sustainable economic development, supports the bond measure, as well. 

"GrowSmart Maine will continue to speak in support of a comprehensive bond package that will provide funding for important investments across the state," the organization said

The bill could spur job creation, supporters say. 

Lever's "company estimates the bond could pump life into the state's economy by creating as many as 1800 jobs," the news report said. 

The bill might only be a drop in the bucket when it comes to rehabilitating Maine's water infrastructure. 

The state has reported $540 million in drinking water infrastructure needs over the next two decades, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. 

Here are the official goals of the measure, L.D. 1455, per draft language: "The bill would aim "to ensure clean water and safe communities across Maine; to protect drinking water sources; to allow communities to better prepare for extreme storms and floods; to protect, enhance and restore our lakes, rivers, streams, groundwater, wetlands and fish, game and wildlife habitat; to create jobs and vital public infrastructure; and to strengthen the State's long-term economic base and competitive advantage."

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