Having lived in the Brunswick area since the early 1970s, I know firsthand how important Environmental Protection Agency funding has been in cleaning up the Androscoggin River. Anyone who lived here then can’t help but remember how awful it was. Given that one example among many across the state, I am very concerned about how the deep cuts proposed by the Trump administration to the EPA’s budget will affect the ongoing cleanup of our rivers and streams.

At the time one of the country’s most polluted rivers, the Androscoggin was the inspiration behind Sen. Edmund Muskie’s successful campaign to enact the federal Clean Water Act in 1972. Since then, EPA funding has been critical to helping Maine address industrial pollution from textile and paper mills in the Androscoggin and other waterways.

However, the job is not finished. The state of Maine currently has a $1.6 billion backlog on water infrastructure updates. The Androscoggin itself still contains high levels of mercury.

The proposed cuts would drastically cut funding for research and enforcement, meaning less protection from polluters. By rejecting these extreme cuts, we can prevent pollution of our waters from getting worse. However, if we truly want clean water in Maine, we need Congress to dramatically increase its investment in cleaning up our water.

Sen. Susan Collins, a member of the Appropriations Committee, has been an advocate for protecting Maine’s environment in the past. She will play a critical role when the Senate debates this issue later this month. Let’s thank Sen. Collins for her past efforts – and let her know we’re counting on her to advocate for the resources we need to restore clean water throughout Maine.

Peter Simmons