In 2000 the Maine Department of Agriculture used a $2.5 million state general fund appropriation to establish the Nutrient Management Grant Program, a cost share program to help producers construct manure-handling facilities to comply with the state's Nutrient Management Law.
Maine also established the Watershed Improvement Financial Assistance Partnership in 2000. It provides financial assistance to help state Soil and Water Conservation Districts conduct nonpoint source pollution control projects to restore or protect lakes, streams, or coastal waters that are polluted or considered threatened. The funding is from the Environmental Protection Agency ($240,000), administered by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP), and the State of Maine general fund ($160,000), administered by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Resources. EPA-New England and the Maine Association of Conservation Districts are cooperating partners. Maine's 16 Districts joined together to form four watershed regions for this program. Annually each region is eligible to receive a grant of $100,000.
MDEP and Agriculture established the Nutrient Management Loan program in 1999. Loans are available through the Financial Authority of Maine. These loans have an effective interest rate of 4 percent the first year and 3 percent each year thereafter for up to 20 years. They may be used for building storage and handling facilities for manure and milk room wastes, including equipment that is used solely for handling waste. In 1999 MDEP also issued $500,000 grants of state bond funds for watershed projects under the Priority Watershed Protection Grants Program.
In 1998 the Maine Department of Transportation established the Surface Water Quality Protection Program to help reduce polluted runoff from highways. The program uses federal Transportation Equity Act funds (about $200,000 per year). The projects funded usually involve reconstruction of highway drainage systems to reduce sediment discharges to waters.
The state legislature initiated the Maine Overboard Discharge Program in 1989 to help fund replacement systems that would eliminate licensed overboard discharges in certain areas. Licensed overboard discharges are treated discharges, to surface bodies of water, of domestic pollutants not conveyed to a municipal or quasi-municipal wastewater treatment facility. High priority is given to shellfish areas that could be opened for harvesting if the licensed overboard discharges were eliminated. The state share of funding for projects in this grant program comes from bond issues approved by the voters. Since 1989, $4.5 million has been used.
The Small Community Grant Program is a water pollution control program administered by MDEP. Funding levels range from $500,000 to $1 million per year, and a state bond is used to fund the program. The goals are to improve water quality, protect public health, and reopen shellfishing areas that are affected by wastewater discharges. The program may provide financial and technical assistance in solving wastewater disposal problems in unsewered areas. For qualifying systems, grants for 25 to 100 percent of the replacement costs for a year-round residence, 25 to 50 percent for a business, and 25 to 50 percent for a seasonal or second home are available.