Bangor, MAINE – Standing in front of an aging water system in Bangor today, Governor Janet Mills highlighted the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan’s investments to upgrade drinking water and wastewater infrastructure across the state.
The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan proposes investing $50 million to improve water infrastructure across Maine by dedicating $25 million to the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and $25 million to the State Municipal Wastewater Grant Program at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
The funds would be awarded on a competitive basis, focused on improvements to improve water treatment plants, storage reservoirs, pipe distribution systems, and other sources of water that ensure safe public drinking water and protect public health. The funds will also reduce the financial burden on local ratepayers, support construction jobs, and allow municipalities to leverage additional Federal matching funds.
The proposal comes as municipal water systems across Maine become outdated and deteriorate, necessitating repair, replacement, or building of new capacity. That need greatly outpaces available funding though, resulting in a significant backlog of projects that stretches to nearly every corner of the state.
“The health of our people, our economy, and our state depend on protecting our clean water,” said Governor Janet Mills. “The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan will help accomplish that by tackling the backlog of drinking and waste water projects across the state, thereby ensuring clean water and safe infrastructure, reducing the financial burden on local ratepayers, and creating construction jobs in the process.”
“The Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan provides for critical repairs and renovations to wastewater infrastructure, such as treatment plants, pump stations, and sewer systems,” said Melanie Loyzim, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. “This infrastructure is often out of sight and out of mind for most of us, but the maintenance and upgrading of this ‘invisible’, yet essential, infrastructure is critical to protect public health, to protect water quality, and support economic growth.”
“Maine’s public water systems safeguard the health and wellbeing of millions of Maine people and visitors to our state,” said Michael Abbott, Environmental Health Director for the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “This critical investment would improve aging infrastructure, support the building of new capacity to manage emerging water quality challenges, and open new opportunities for smaller and underserved communities to provide safe drinking water to the people of Maine.”
Bangor Water’s Venture Way Standpipe visited by Governor Mills today is one such example. Built in 1943 and operated by the Bangor Water District, the standpipe holds one million gallons of water that are used by nearby homes and businesses and by Bangor International Airport as an emergency water source for fire suppression. A pending project to replace the 78-year-old standpipe and other supporting water infrastructure in Bangor is estimated to cost $8.3 million.
If approved by the Legislature, the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan can improve and modernize water systems, like the standpipe, across the state.
The Governor was joined today by Kathy Moriarty, General Manager of the Bangor Water District; Dan Tremble, Chair of the Bangor City Council; Cathy Conlow, incoming Executive Director of the Maine Municipal Association and Bangor City Manager; and Michael Abbott, Environmental Health Director for the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Here in Bangor, we have 42 miles of water mains that are over 100 years old, and important infrastructure like the Venture Way Standpipe that dates back to World War II, which needs millions of dollars in upgrades and replacement to serve our communities with clean drinking water,” said Kathy Moriarty, General Manager of the Bangor Water District. “The investments from the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan will help advance critical improvements to Bangor’s water system to reduce our maintenance costs, ensure long-term savings for our ratepayers, and create good-paying jobs to help with economic recovery.”
“Cities like Bangor have an unprecedented opportunity from the American Rescue Plan Act to make critical improvements in in essential local infrastructure, such as water, sewer and broadband, to help spur economic recovery and create jobs,” said Dan Tremble, Chairman of the Bangor City Council. “By leveraging the state funding from the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan as well, cities, towns and counties can maximize the impact of this opportunity, and ensure we make the most of this transformational moment for our residents, businesses, and communities.”
“Governor Mills’ proposal to invest $50 million of state American Rescue Plan Act recovery funds into drinking and wastewater projects is instrumental to the health, vitality and wellbeing of Maine residents. The Maine Municipal Association applauds this investment in critical public health infrastructure,” said James Gardner, Jr., President of Maine Municipal Association and Town Manager of Easton. “Municipal officials support this investment and appreciate the opportunity to use local ARPA revenue to match state revenues, thereby increasing the capacity to make much needed improvements.”
“We are thrilled to see this proposed support for water and wastewater utilities here in Maine,” said Kirsten Hebert, Executive Director of the Maine Rural Water Association. “Small and rural systems have been disproportionately affected during the pandemic, and with this funding the State of Maine recognizes the hard work and resiliency displayed by the staff and volunteers of our local utilities.”
“Maine’s public water systems are facing numerous challenges related to contaminants in drinking water and failing infrastructure,” said Bruce Berger, Executive Director of the Maine Water Utilities Association. “Governor Mills proposed $25 million investment in drinking water improvements will enable water systems to address the highest priority challenges while continuing to deliver safe drinking water at affordable rates.”
Today was Governor Mills’ seventh stop across Maine to highlight the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, her proposal to dedicate more than $1 billion in discretionary Federal relief funds allocated to Maine under the American Rescue Plan Act.
The Governor last week visited bluShift Aerospace in Brunswick to discuss the importance of the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan’s investment in innovation. She has also visited Coffee By Design in Portland to highlight the plan’s initiative to help Maine small businesses afford the cost of health insurance for their employees; Penobscot Bay YMCA in Rockport to highlight the plan’s investment in child care and early childhood education opportunities; Maine Grains in Skowhegan to highlight the plan’s investment in farms and food processors; and Foster Career and Technical Education Center in Farmington and Central Maine Community College in Auburn to discuss investments in workforce training programs that will strengthen Maine’s economy.