Removing 30 years’ worth of sludge from the sewer system and replacing drinking water pipes that date as far back as 1891 are the focus of two projects for which the town is seeking state assistance.

Officials hope to tap as much as $4.3 million in low-interest revolving loan funds administered by the Maine Clean Water Program and the Maine Drinking Water Program, but the outcome is far from certain, Town Manager Kathryn Ruth told the Town Council on Tuesday.

“There are just billions of dollars of water and sewer projects out there looking for funding,” said Ruth. “It is extremely competitive.”

Pittsfield seeks $1.9 million for removing sludge from the sewer system’s “lagoon” and $2.4 million for replacing or upgrading 6,800 feet of water lines. The revolving loan fund is attractive because it offers interest rates that are 2 percent below what the town could hope for on its own.

In a related issue, the council unanimously accepted the lowest of three bids for an engineering study to support the revolving loan fund applications. Olver Associates Inc. of Winterport won the job with a total bid of $7,000 plus $50 an hour for inspection services. The other bids were submitted by Acheron Engineering Serv-ices of Newport and A.E. Hodsdon Engineers of Waterville.

In addition to Olver’s low price, some councilors cited satisfaction with the firm on past projects.

“We’ve always been happy with Olver Associates,” said Deputy Mayor Gary Jordan Jr. “They have a lot of experience.”

Also on the municipal infrastructure front, the council voted to increase the amount of a contract with T. Buck Construction of Auburn, which is in the process of installing a backup pump in the municipal drinking water system at a contracted cost of $55,975. Ruth said that because of the low rates offered by the contractor, the town could afford to replace aging electrical controls on the primary pump at a cost of $12,956. The total contract price of $68,931 is still below what the town budgeted for the project, said Ruth.

Councilors approved the contract extension with a unanimous vote.


Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.