Senator Carson, Representative Tucker, and members of the Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee. My name is Nick Bennett, and I am the Staff Scientist for the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM). NRCM is Maine’s largest environmental advocacy group with more than 25,000 members and supporters. I am testifying in support of LD 1832, “An Act To Ensure Adequate Funding for the Maine Pollutant Discharge Elimination System and Waste Discharge Licensing Program.”
Technical staff at the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) oversee hundreds of wastewater discharges throughout Maine, ranging from small overboard discharges for individual homes to large industrial facilities and wastewater plants for major cities and towns. They also oversee discharges from stormwater treatment systems. Through the Maine Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Program (MEPDES), these staff process licenses, track compliance, provide technical assistance, and monitor and model water quality. They are the heart of clean water protection in Maine, and without them, our water quality would degrade quickly.
They are also underfunded. DEP has not requested a fee increase on dischargers since 2008. Other sources of funding, for both state and federal governments, have largely been flat or declining. Funding has not kept up with inflation, resulting in the need for LD 1832.
Clean water is one of Maine’s most valuable assets. In 2018, the tourism industry supported 110,000 jobs. That’s one in six of all jobs in Maine, and tourism expenditures totaled more than $9 billion. People come to Maine to boat, swim, fish, and hunt because our water is clean. Sportfishing alone results in more than $300 million of expenditures annually, money directly dependent on clean water. Maine’s commercial fishing industry is also critical economically. In 2018, commercial landings were worth $675 million. The total economic impact of commercial fishing is more than $1 billion, and it supports more than 40,000 jobs. Maine would also not have the diversity of aquatic animals it has—everything from crayfish to brook trout to river otters to porpoise to puffins—without clean water.
Again, clean water is wonderful asset, but it takes work and smart and dedicated people to maintain. We don’t have to look far back in our history at what happens when we don’t have a DEP with active technical staff implementing rigorous water quality standards and overseeing wastewater discharges. Our rivers used to support very little aquatic life; now they are thriving in many places.
In closing, the value of clean water is clear. Maine needs to keep and continue to improve this asset. Please help Maine do that by voting ought-to-pass on LD 1832.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify.
 Maine Office of Tourism. 2019. 2018 Annual Report. P. 4. Accessed at https://motpartners.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/2018_MOT_GovCon_Annual-Report.pdf.
 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2011. 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, State Overview. P. 18. Accessed at https://digitalmedia.fws.gov/digital/collection/document/id/858/
Maine Department of Marine Resources. Preliminary 2018 Commercial Maine Landings By Ex-vessel Value. Accessed at https://www.maine.gov/dmr/commercial-fishing/landings/documents/2018ValueBySpecies.Pie.Graph.pdf.
 National Maine Fisheries Service. 2018. Fisheries Economics of the United States 2016. P.88. Accessed at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/resource/document/fisheries-economics-united-states-report-2016