A $30 million borrowing package to improve sewage systems will be presented to Maine voters on the November ballot.

If approved, the funding could leverage tens of millions of dollars in federal and other funding and make a small dent in the state’s $1 billion backlog of wastewater fixes and updates.

Question 2 asks voters if they want to approve a 10-year general obligation bond to fund improvements to municipal and private wastewater systems.

Maine’s sewage systems received a poor grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers in its 2016 infrastructure report card.

The majority of the bond, $27.6 million, would be provided in grants to help design and build wastewater treatment plants, with priority given to Maine communities with high-value shellfish.

Some fertile areas for clammers and other shellfish harvesters are permanently off-limits because of probable bacterial contamination from the runoff of malfunctioning sewer systems, said Brian Kavanah, acting director for water quality at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.


The department prioritizes those areas for improvement because fixing the problem could help the shellfish industry and the environment, Kavanah said.

“Historically in the programs we have always looked to get the best effect,” he said. “If it has both an environmental and an economic benefit, it naturally rises to the top in terms of priority.”

Some of the bond money may also be used to produce hydrographic maps that can identify the severity of runoff and potentially open some harvesting areas, a request made by the Department of Marine Resources, Kavanah added.

A smaller portion of the bond, $2 million, would be given in grants to towns to replace malfunctioning septic systems that pollute coastal watersheds or cause a public nuisance. The remainder, $350,000, would assist homeowners with substandard or malfunctioning household overboard discharge systems that directly discharge into coastal watersheds.

Maine would repay the cost of the bond – $38.2 million, including 5 percent interest – over 10 years.

No public comments have been filed in support or opposition to Question 2, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.