Do you favor a $10,000,000 bond issue to ensure clean water and safe communities across Maine; to protect drinking water sources; to restore wetlands; to create jobs and vital public infrastructure; and to strengthen the State’s long-term economic base and competitive advantage?
Many Maine towns and cities have sewer and water pipes and treatment centers that date back several decades — or even further back in history — and are due for upgrades to keep drinking water safe and the infrastructure that delivers and disposes of it in working order. In Bangor, for example, workers spent the summer months replacing sewer lines that date back to the pre-Civil War era.
Question 6 on the November ballot offers voters a chance to replenish two key funds that pay for drinking water and sewer system upgrades while triggering additional federal funds. In helping the state and local governments maintain infrastructure for something as critical as water, the initiative offers government the tools necessary to fulfill a core function: ensuring safe drinking water.
The initiative deserves voters’ support.
If approved, the $10 million bond issue would send $2.4 million into a revolving fund the state uses to issue loans to towns and cities making wastewater treatment facility upgrades. Another $1.8 million would flow to a similar fund that pays for drinking water system work. Those two allocations would trigger $21 million in federal funds — a five-to-one return.
This should be the last time for at least a decade when Maine voters are asked to approve bond funding for water and sewer work. Starting next year, some of the revenues from the state’s wholesale liquor business — after going toward payments on a bond used to repay Maine’s hospital debt — will flow into the same state funds this year’s bond issue would replenish.
What sets this year’s Question 6 apart from past bond issues for water infrastructure upgrades are $5.4 million it sets aside for other kinds of infrastructure work and $400,000 for wetlands restoration.
Towns and cities across the state have pressing needs to improve and rebuild culverts and other stream crossings — improvements to fish passages and road quality that help communities bounce back from major flood damage. The Department of Environmental Protection would award the $5.4 million to towns and cities on a competitive basis to complete that work.
By investing in higher-quality water and sewer infrastructure and helping Maine towns and cities better prepare for flooding, the investments proposed in Question 6 could very well save money in the long run.