Improving the quality of drinking water, repairing and improving water infrastructure and preserving marine environments are the major projects that Maine will undertake with more than $23 million in loans from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA last August approved allocating Maine $23.5 million from its Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF). The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) received $12.4 million for the Clean Water SRF, and the state’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) was awarded $1.1 million for its drinking Water SRF program.
According to the Main Division of Environmental and Community Health, which falls under DHHS, states must match 20 percent of the total loaned to them by the federal government for these purposes. The loans are low-interest and in some cases, in disadvantaged communities, the principal can be forgiven altogether.
Among the projects the loan will fund are replacing old water-storage tanks and building new ones, replacing old or leaking pipes and improving the treatment of drinking water. It will also help control pollution of both water used for human consumption and water in the state’s natural marine environments.
“The Clean Water State Revolving Fund is an extremely important source of funding for Maine communities to upgrade critical wastewater infrastructure," Paul Mercer, commissioner of the DEP, said in a news release. “Maine has approximately $1 billion in wastewater infrastructure needs to upgrade treatment facilities, pump stations and sewer lines. This CWSRF grant will support our ongoing work to protect and improve Maine's water quality.”
Dr. Bruce Bates, director of the state’s Center for Disease Control and Protection, concurred, according to the news release, saying “We are constantly working to ensure Mainers have access to clean, safe drinking water. Our state's Drinking Water Program provides funding to public water systems across the state aimed at improving the public water infrastructure. This funding from the EPA allows us to continue these important projects.”