PITTSFIELD, Maine — Because of unusual drilling problems, the Waverly Street water main project has been postponed until spring.
Enterprise Trenchless Technologies Inc. ran into some problems it had never seen before.
The project called for ETTI to drill across the Sebasticook River near the Waverly Street bridge to replace the old water main that is attached the bridge.
Town Manager Kathryn Ruth said the water main kept breaking and the town was forced to repair it many times.
“We had to shut it off a couple years ago,” said Ruth, who added the line doesn’t affect any residential homes, only the town-owned properties of the town garage and water sewer garage.
Haley Construction Inc. of Sangerville is in charge of the project and had ETTI do the horizontal drilling.
Two attempts to drill underneath the river were unsuccessful because air from the drilling process was leaking into the river through a fractured ledge.
“In all of the 16 years ETTI has been successfully conducting horizontal directional drilling, they have never encountered ledge with fractures that were so severe that they prevented the drill work from being completed,” said Annaleis Hafford, vice president of Olver Associates Inc., in a letter to Ruth.
The air that was leaking into the river is needed to return ledge fragments from the drill hole back to the entrance pit for removal.
After the first attempt on the north side of the bridge was unsuccessful, they tried on the south side, hoping the ledge was solid instead of fractured.
“They thought if they went to the other side of the river bed, they wouldn’t find [the fractured ledge],” said Ruth.
But that wasn’t the case.
“They again hit the fractured material and their bit became dislodged from their drill rig leaving the bore hole unusable,” said Hafford in the letter.
ETTI has contacted a national drilling engineer to help provide an alternative drilling method, said Hafford.
However, the earliest the project could move forward would be in December.
“Winter construction is a lot more expensive than summer or spring construction,” said Ruth.
The money for the project came from the Water Enterprise Fund. The project is not to exceed $508,500.
Ruth is aiming for the next drilling method to be completed in one day in order to stay within the budget.
“The contractor has indicated that this work could take between 1 and 3 days to complete, but is expected to be completed within the two-day period,” said Hafford in the letter.