FARMINGTON — A small number of residents attended a Farmington Water Department meeting Tuesday night to hear details of a proposed reservoir replacement project.

Several town and state permits still are pending on the project, which would replace an earthen reservoir with a concrete one with half the current capacity.

Replacement is being proposed because of concern over lack of adequate water flow when fighting fires or other high water usages and problems caused by potential leaks or failures.

Life-cycle cost analyses show a new reservoir would have the longest life, require less maintenance and have lower overall costs.

A $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is being sought, and a loan through the Maine Rural Water program is being pursued. A water rate increase to cover the anticipated costs of more than $2.5 million would be subject to approval by the Public Utilities Commission. The rate increase might be as much as 25 percent.

District Assessor James Andrews said, “We hope to keep costs down as much as possible. It’s less than $1 per week for a standard resident customer. The trade-off is worth it.”

Resident Cheryl Best said an increase would be difficult for the elderly and those on fixed incomes.

Resident Steve Muise asked about construction plans.

Jim Lord, of Dirigo Engineering, said, “The new reservoir will be adjacent to the current one. The reservoir would be out of service for five to six months if it was put where the current one is. That’s an excessive (period of) time with less fire protection.”

Lord said some trees would have to be removed and that there would be a storage area and an area for concrete casting.

“I’m glad you picked a relatively unforested area,” Muise said. “This is a better ‘aesthetic’ in the long run than the barbed wire there now. It’ll be really cool when done.”

Lord said he expects the proposal to be on the Farmington Planning Board’s agenda for its March 12 meeting.

A public hearing is required as part of the rate-increase process.

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