JOB CREATION AND CLEAN WATER INFRASTRUCTURE BOND CONSIDERED FRIDAY
Bill Creates or Supports 1,833 Jobs, Saves Maine Taxpayers Tens of Millions of Dollars and Enjoys Support of Bipartisan Leadership, Business Community, Sportsmen, Rural Advocates and Conservation Groups
AUGUSTA, Maine | April 10, 2014
Issued by the Clean Water and Safe Communities Coalition
A $50 million bond bill that would create or support 1,833 jobs, save Maine taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and trigger $25 million in federal matching funds will be considered in the Maine Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee on Friday.
The Clean Water and Safe Communities Act (LD 1455) enjoys the backing of bipartisan legislative leaders and an uncommonly strong, effective and diverse group of membership organizations representing the business community, sportsmen and women, rural advocates and conservation groups from every part of Maine.
The legislation creates or supports 1,833 jobs by making three equally important and interconnected investments in Maine’s clean water infrastructure, including:
- Built Infrastructure, including stream crossing (culvert) upgrades, stormwater management projects, and irrigation system enhancements;
- Natural Infrastructure, including the conservation or restoration of drinking water aquifers, headwater forests, freshwater and coastal wetlands, lakes and ponds, rivers, streams and their floodplains; and
- Maine’s Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds to secure federal dollars to upgrade the state’s drinking water systems and wastewater treatment facilities.
Creates and Supports 1,833 Good Maine Jobs
“Maine’s water resources are critical assets that support our economy and quality of life. We can’t take for granted our water and all that relies on it.” said Rep. Jeff McCabe, Assistant Majority Leader D-Skowhegan, sponsor of LD1455. Rep Ken Fredette, Minority Leader, R-Newport added, “Putting Mainers to work is our top priority. This bond will make sound investments in creating and preserving jobs in areas like construction, tourism, fisheries and engineering to strengthen Maine’s long-term economic base and competitive advantage.”
A study by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Maine noted that this bond’s investment in nonresidential construction would add $219 million to Maine’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), $70.8 million to personal earnings and create or sustain 1,833 jobs.
“This work can help Maine in the long term by conserving our resources, but within months, this bond will begin to create jobs for the construction workers, environmental consultants and others who will be hired by these funds,” said AGC CEO Matthew Marks.
Saves Maine Tens of Millions of Dollars
In addition to creating jobs right away, the Clean Water and Safe Communities Act also enjoys broad support because it chooses the most cost effective and fiscally responsible approach to a very costly issue Maine will have to deal with in coming years: improving our WWII era water infrastructure.
First and most directly, LD 1455 triggers $25 million in federal matching funds the State Revolving funds. No Maine legislature has ever failed to bring those dollars to Maine to support jobs and infrastructure.
More broadly, the vast majority of road-stream crossings in Maine were designed to meet standards half a century out of date. Municipalities are projected to need to spend $41-85 million to replace the highest priority crossings across the state, and will need roughly $14-28 million more to build the upgraded structures needed to handle the higher flood levels we now expect. Add to this an aging, World War II era water infrastructure that is increasingly challenged to prevent large quantities of waste and sewage water from being released into rivers and coastal waters when rain storms overwhelm system capacity. In Maine, DEP estimates that communities have already spent $415 million to address stormwater infrastructure issues and face an additional need of $142 million. Maine has many water systems that currently hold waivers from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency relieving them for now of the requirement to build filtration systems. Those communities include Lewiston, Auburn, Damariscotta, Bangor, Mt. Desert Island and Brewer.
A recent study conducted for the Portland Water District’s service area found that solving the problem by protecting the natural water infrastructure (riparian buffers, culvert upgrades, conservation easements, etc.) could cost $44 million versus as much as $155 million (2.5 times as much) to build a new water filtration plant. Another study in Maine showed that proactive investments in natural infrastructure could avoid hundreds of millions of dollars in flood damages, yielding benefits nearly 20 times the costs.
“This bill takes a practical and innovative approach to creating jobs and solving problems now, while also making sure that valuable resources like clean water and wildlife are safeguarded for future generations,” said Alex Mas, Director of Strategic Initiatives for The Nature Conservancy in Maine. “Why would we chose to leave tens of millions in federal matching funds in Washington – or chose to pay 2.5 times more than necessary to address these issues?”
Protects Maine’s Natural Habitats, Recreation Economy and Tourism Jobs
Recreation businesses, too, benefit from well-managed water resources – from fishing guides to boat manufacturers, small campgrounds to large outfitters, coalition members said.
“Protecting habitat for native brook trout, waterfowl and other species that drive Maine’s outdoor recreation economy and attract millions of tourists is tremendously important for our state,” said David Trahan, Executive Director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.
“Clean drinking water and great recreational opportunities make Maine attractive to businesses and to families, and protecting these resources now has clear economic benefit,” said Dana Connors, President of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce.
The Clean Water and Safe Communities Coalition includes:
Associated General Contractors of Maine
Maine State Chamber of Commerce
Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine
Northern Maine Development Commission
Maine Rural Water Association
Maine Municipal Association
Maine Water Utilities Association
American Council of Engineering Companies of Maine
The Nature Conservancy
Southern Maine Regional Water Council
Maine Wastewater Control Associations
Maine Lakes Society
Environmental Priorities Coalition
Conservation Law Foundation
Maine Coast Heritage Trust
Androscoggin Land Trust
Bangor Land Trust
Kennebec Estuary Land Trust
Loon Echo Land Trust
York Land Trust and others.
Learn more at www.cleanwaterformaine.org
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org