Maine CDC Press Release

February 11, 2008

State Receives Federal Assistance to Protect Drinking Water

Andrews Tolman, Maine CDC Drinking Water Program
Kim Gilman, Trust for Public Land
617-367-6200 ext. 526

Augusta, ME – The Maine Department of Health and Human Services announced today that Maine is one of three states selected to receive federal technical assistance over the next year to protecting drinking water resources amid the challenges posed by growth. The assistance will come primarily in the form of technical expertise from four national organizations: The Trust for Public Land, the Smart Growth Leadership Institute, the Association of Drinking Water Administrators, and River Network. No direct funding is associated with this grant. The expert assistance will be provided through a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Dr. Dora Anne Mills, Maine Center for Disease Control’s Director said, “Our Drinking Water Program works with public water systems and other agencies to provide Maine people with safe, protected, and affordable drinking water. Source water assessments showed us that unplanned growth around drinking water supplies is a major threat to our ability to accomplish this task.

“New legislation ensures review of actions taken by state agencies that affect public water supplies,” continued Mills. “This is a major step forward as well as a challenge to our workload. The technical assistance and expert resources that the Trust for Public Lands will provide will make our implementation more effective and efficient.”

Maine, New Hampshire, and Ohio were chosen from 19 states through a competitive application process. In the application, the Maine CDC’s Drinking Water Program received endorsements from 18 organizations, including key state program managers, water utilities, and universities. The project is expected to run from January through the fall of 2008.

According to Sam Hodder, Maine State Director for The Trust for Public Land, “This is an exciting new project to align state water quality protection and land use programs and policies to better protect drinking water sources. State planners know that unplanned development is the primary threat to our drinking water quality. Their application demonstrated a high level of commitment to protecting that source water, and TPL is pleased to be among the groups working to them to achieve this goal.”

The US Environmental Protection Agency funded project, Enabling Source Water Protection: Aligning State Land Use and Water Protection Programs, will provide the three selected states consultation with experts on best practices from around the country. It will recommend strategies for improving funding for water protection, and include a support network (both within and outside government) for implementation. Through this project, Maine will implement a new law that requires integration of source water protection into an array of State programs.