BRATTLEBORO >> Some water main work on Frost Place is set to take place soon.
"I'm making contact with the contractor now," Brattleboro Department of Public Works Director Steve Barrett said Thursday. "I'm hoping to do it by late spring. We'll probably be starting next month or June. We'll put out notices."
A bid was awarded to HeitKamp Inc. of Watertown, Conn., at Tuesday's Select Board meeting. The contractor was the only one to submit a bid. The town had budgeted $100,000 for the project and the bid came in at $99,300.
A six-inch water main on Frost Place was installed in 1894, according to town records.
"The older type of water main traditionally doesn't have any type of lining on the inside pipe," Barrett said. "Today, the pipe from the manufacturer would have some lining on the inside besides cast iron."
The water system in Brattleboro has been in operation since the early 1800s. A filtration plant was not built until 1989. Barrett said pipes can become like "arteries getting plugged" over time and such build-up might only allow for water to travel through four inches of a six-inch pipe.
For this project, a trench will be dug and the pipe will be cut open. Cable will be strung through it and material will be scraped out.
"We'll clean it, wash it and rinse it," said Barrett. "Then new, epoxy coating is put on the inside of it. Once that cures — and it only takes about three hours to cure — the water main is loaded with water."
The water main will be put back in service once a favorable result comes back after a series of bacteria tests, Barrett said.
This cleaning method is advantageous because the whole street does not need to be dug up, he told the Reformer. Excavation can be done in 500-foot sections.
Epoxy cures much quicker than cement, which was another option Barrett could have considered for the lining. The material was used in other areas of town, he said.
"The High Street water main was originally installed in the 1880s and supplied water to the first fire hydrant in the downtown district," he wrote via e-mail. "In 1991, we cleaned and cement lined the pipe and it remains in service 136 year later!"
Using cement for the lining also has the potential to affect the pH level of water, said Barrett, meaning it can cause taste and odor problems.
"That's not desirable," he said. "In a larger water main on Western Avenue, back in the 1980s, we cement-lined all those pipes, tested the water and put it in service. We never had any issues. But that was because we were using so much water, it never had the chance to change the pH."
Contact Chris Mays at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.