On Thursday evening, the Select Board intends to start one of the biggest water projects in years.
It is set to approve the replacement and expansion of the Argilla Road water main, which will start this summer. The city will use a combination of local and federal funds to replace the 8-inch water main with a 20-inch water main that will both solve current water problems and provide room for future growth.
“It will support future growth and periods of high usage and demand,” City Manager Andrew Flanagan said. “And like any water pipeline project we do, it will mitigate the transmission of discolored water in the surrounding area.”
City engineers have identified this pipeline as the highest priority because its replacement will fix one of the city’s most problematic areas, Flanagan said. This pipeline is also important to ensure the flow of water from the water treatment plant to the Bancroft water reservoir, which will then bring more water to the Dascomb Road and Lowell Junction areas, which are likely to see further development, he said.
Originally, city officials planned to use $4.6 million in federal funding for the project through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). However, the city decided to split the costs between ARPA funding and city water utility funds.
Now, $2.8 million of ARPA funding will go to the project and the rest — $1.8 million — will come from the Water Enterprise Fund. Water users in Andover and North Reading contribute to the fund, which pays for work on the city’s water system.
Because the 8-inch water main would have been replaced by the fund, city officials decided to offset this particular cost with all users’ money, instead of ARPA funds, which can be used for all Andover projects.
This is just part of the beginning of the city’s plan to expand its water service, Flanagan said.
“The project alone will not move all of the water that needs to be moved now and in the future from the treatment plant to Bancroft Reservoir, but it is an important part of a phased effort to increase capacity across the system,” he said.
The city has been approved for $9.5 million under the state’s special funding program focused on infrastructure improvements, which will help with full implementation, Flanagan said. There is also the possibility of subsidies in the future, he added.
The Argilla Road water main is one of many projects the city plans to pay for with its $10.8 million in ARPA funds that are meant to be used for pandemic relief and development economic. Funds of $1.8 million originally earmarked for this project are being allocated to other improvement projects in the city.