MAINE, USA — Governor Janet Mills continued crisscrossing the state to promote her Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan on Wednesday. This time, her stop at the 78-year-old Venture Way Standpipe in Bangor highlighted what she says is one of many outdated water systems that municipalities need upgrading.
The governor used the standpipe backdrop as an example of Maine's crumbling drinking and wastewater infrastructure.
Mills said the 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.
“These funds will help the state address the significant backlog of drinking and wastewater projects,” Mills said. “It will allow municipalities to leverage more federal funds to make repairs and replace infrastructure. And it will reduce the cost that will otherwise be placed on the shoulders of ratepayers. As we put these dollars to work to improve critical infrastructure in the bricks and mortar sense, the water and wastewater sense, we’ll also support we will also support construction jobs in the communities and will ensure that this essential community infrastructure is here for us for generations to come.”
Mills encouraged the legislature to quickly pass the plan for all Mainers. She said public water systems across Maine are outdated and deteriorated, necessitating repair or replacement. She said that need greatly outpaces available funding, resulting in a significant backlog of projects on every corner of the state.
“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.”
“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.”
If the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan passes, the entire $50 million will come from Federal COVID relief money already passed by Congress.