GARDINER — A new water tank in Farmingdale’s Hayford Heights will provide more water to help fight fires, city officials said Monday.

State and federal officials announced that a $1.5 million loan to fund the construction of a new water tank will come to the Gardiner Water District through the state drinking water revolving loan fund. Since 1997, the fund has awarded more than $200 million.

The 750,000 to 1 million gallon water tank will replace a 300,000 gallon tank on Almar Street.

The larger tank is needed to provide enough water for firefighting efforts in Farmingdale and Hallowell, said Paul Gray, superintendent of the Gardiner Water District. The water district, which serves Gardiner, Farmingdale, Randolph and Pittston, has plans to eventually merge with the Hallowell Water District.

Jeff Kobrock, chairman of the Gardiner Water District Trustees, said at the press conference that the state drinking water program also helped commission a study to review possible cost savings between the two districts. He said both the study and the new tank project wouldn’t have been possible without the program.

“We have an old and expensive system to maintain; so it’s important we have new capital to invest into it, and it’s important to have capital that’s affordable,” Kobrock said.

The revolving loan fund was established in Maine in 1997 as part of amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act passed by Congress in 1996.

This year the state expects to fund $17 million worth of infrastructure improvements to public water systems, about half of what was requested, said Roger Crouse, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Drinking Water Program.

The state must provide a 20 percent match to receive the federal money for the program, Crouse said.

By receiving a loan through the program, a municipality will typically save roughly $300,000 on a $1 million project, said Maine Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew at the press conference.

With most public water systems being built 80 to 100 years ago, Mayhew said the state is looking forward to the continuation of the funding partnership that provides needed improvements across Maine.

“Investing in our drinking water systems has provided long-lasting benefits to our communities and has infused Maine’s economy with many jobs,” she said.

The new tank in Farmingdale will serve about half the customers in Hayford Heights and a portion of Maine Avenue, Gray said, and it will be funded by a 15 percent rate increase implemented in January.

The water district is expected to close shortly on the purchase of roughly six acres from Central Maine Power for the project, he said. After the sale is final, the district will put the project out to bid. Gray said it could be finished by winter, but it may not be completed until next spring.

“We’re going to move on this project quickly,” he said.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663 | pkoenig@centralmaine.com | Twitter: @Paul_Koenig