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Law changes relating to deadlines, funding and priority number-setting -- January 2000

This Program has been significantly modified by the 119th Legislature through Title 23 MRSA § 1851. This long-awaited updating of the Program brings resolution of this issue to many municipalities in Maine. The highlights of this Legislation include the following:

  • Maine DEP reviewed the Priority numbers of all public and private sites over the summer & fall of 1999. All MUNICIPAL and COUNTY offices were notified during December, 1999 of their Priority number and what their future obligations were if any. An appeal process is available and the final Priority list will be available by April 1, 2000.

  • DEP's criteria for assigning Priority numbers has expanded from strictly a domestic drinking water supply impact to one which includes additional factors such as potential impact on significant aquifers and surface waters plus the pile's proximity to residential areas.

  • All Priority 4 and 5 sites lost the requirement to erect a building.... and any hope of receiving State financial assistance. In addition, municipal and county sites will not be required to follow Best Management Practices (BMP's) for discharges to groundwater only. If surface water is impacted (wetlands, aquatic areas, etc), then other federal or state regs may apply though.

  • Any buildings at Priority 4 and 5 sites built after November 1, 1999 are not eligible for State assistance.

  • All Priority 1, 2, and 3 sites will still be required to erect facilities by a deadline. The "old" deadlines have been adjusted (again) into the future to accommodate State and local funding.

  • Any new sand/salt or salt piles sited after October 1, 1999 will be required to register with DEP and follow BMP's for site control and "housekeeping" practices.

  • Any future funds allocated to municipal/county facilities will be divided so that 20% goes to reimbursing Priority 4 towns which have built a facility in the recent past. The remaining 80% of the funds will be provided to Priority 1, 2, or 3 towns in the order of completion, by Priority number.

  • The amended law retains the order of expected financial reimbursement to towns.

Under State law passed in 1987, all owners of salt or sand/salt piles in Maine were required to register their pile with the Maine DEP. As a result of this law, hundreds of municipal, MaineDOT, county, and private sites were registered and granted immunity (grandfathered) from violations of any DEP groundwater protection laws until such time that a facility could be constructed to prevent salt contamination of domestic water supplies. (All new sites or relocated sites since 1987 are technically in violation of State and Federal regulations and are subject to violations). All sites were given a DEP Priority number (1 to 5) which defined the current state of well water contamination in nearby wells. In other words, a Priority 1 site had physical evidence of chloride levels exceeding the State Drinking Water Limit of 250 mg/liter, whereas a priority 5 site is an area completely serviced by public water and the pile is having no measurable effect on the source of public water.

Funding was established to assist municipalities and counties in construction of their facilities which commonly take the shape of a self-contained building. All funding is distributed "according to the priority established"..... "in a consistent and timely manner". By following this statutory language, over 40 municipal buildings in the Priority 1 and 2 categories have been constructed and all these towns have been reimbursed their State share. There are still about 40 Priority 1 and 2 towns which do not have a building and their statutory deadline is April, 2003.

In the Priority 3 category, there are over 37 towns with buildings and most of them have been reimbursed. There are about 55 Priority 3 towns which have not built any facility at this time.

In the Priority 4 and 5 categories, there are about 40 towns with buildings and all but two have received no State funding.

This site is intended to guide municipal officials with the process of building a facility. Because this is a joint Program of the MaineDOT and the Maine DEP, any issues or questions should be directed to the appropriate Department. All environmental or siting issues should be directed to Tammy Gould at the Maine DEP at 287-7814, and all facility or funding issues should be directed to Peter Coughlan at the MaineDOT at 624-3270.

This page last updated on 6/27/13