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Gov. Mills Signs Sen. Rotundo Bill to Protect Lake Auburn

AUGUSTA, ME (June 30, 2023) — On Thursday, June 22, Gov. Janet Mills signed into law a bill from Sen. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, into law. LD 1473, “An Act to Protect Certain Unfiltered Drinking Water Sources,” will help protect Lake Auburn from high density development that could jeopardize water quality.

 “This law will help protect Lake Auburn, a highly sensitive ecological system, from development, and study how to protect similar watersheds,” said Sen. Rotundo. “This is an enormous relief for the people who get their drinking water from Lake Auburn. I strongly believe we can develop much-needed affordable housing in the Lewiston/Auburn area while protecting our valuable natural resources.”

 As amended, LD 1473 will create protections for Lake Auburn by exempting it from the additional development allowances granted through legislation passed in the 130th Legislature to promote affordable housing. This high-density development could jeopardize water quality as well as Lake Auburn’s federal Environmental Protection Agency filtration waiver and the water rate savings that come with having the waiver. The bill also mandates a report, due to the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources on January 15, 2024, to study state laws designed to protect watersheds that are used to provide drinking water and identify ways to strengthen those laws.

 Of the 40 bodies of water in the United States with federal filtration waivers, ten are in Maine. In addition to Lake Auburn, they are: Sebago Lake, Sebago Lake-East, Eagle Lake, Floods Pond, Hatcase Pond, Little Pond, Lower Hadlock Pond, ]ordan Pond, and Aroostook River/Arnold Lake Brook. 

The bill will go into effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns sine die.

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