NRCM applauds action to ensure clean water for drinking, recreation, and wildlife
NRCM news release
April 23, 2019 (Augusta, ME) – A bill signed into law yesterday by Governor Janet Mills and sponsored by Representative Jessica Fay (D-Raymond) will help protect Maine lakes and rivers from pollution due to leaking septic systems. Malfunctioning septic systems can degrade water quality, potentially impacting drinking water for thousands of Maine residents. A similar bill was passed with bipartisan support in 2017, but vetoed by former Governor Paul LePage.
Under the new law anyone purchasing a home in the shoreland zone of freshwater lakes or rivers statewide will now have to perform a septic inspection to ensure the system is not malfunctioning and harming water quality. A similar requirement has been in place along the coastline for decades. The new septic inspection requirement will provide a double benefit of helping to protect clean water while also giving home buyers important information about the property they are considering purchasing.
Conservation groups lauded the effort by Maine’s elected officials to ensure clean water for drinking, recreation, and wildlife. The bill passed 97-45 in the House and unanimously in the Senate.
“This new law will strengthen the safety net for Maine lakes, which face continued pressures from many different sources of pollution runoff, including failing underground septic systems,” said Pete Didisheim, the Advocacy Director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “We’re especially pleased that this law will help protect Sebago Lake, which serves as the water supply for 200,000 Mainers. With 4,000 lots within 200 feet of the lake, containing about 2,700 septic systems, this new law will help protect public health and clean water. It was especially fitting that the governor signed this bill into law on Earth Day.”
“This change makes sense because it will preserve the water quality of our valuable great ponds and protect lake shorefront property values, the interests of lakefront property sellers and purchasers, and the property tax income of many Maine towns,” said Susan Gallo, Executive Director of the Maine Lakes Society, in her testimony during the public hearing on LD 216.