Winchendon receives $9.5 million grant to replace failing water main: when construction starts

After over a year of waiting, Winchendon officials have received a $9.5 million grant from the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust to replace the town's main pipe that brings water to 2,100 homes and businesses.

The 74-year-old water main has exceeded its official lifespan. The town's water infrastructure system could fail at any time, and hundreds of residents will lose access to clean water.

Brian Croteau, director of the Winchendon Public Works Department, said when they hire a contractor, they will have to send the monthly expense bill to the state so the town can be reimbursed. He said the state-reimbursable grant would pay for the project, and the engineers at Tighe & Bond, the engineering and design firm hired by the town, estimated it to cost $9.5 million.

Croteau said the town had spent $199,000 so far on maps and design of the project to create a package to submit for state grants and the search for a contractor. He said the money was from the American Rescue Plan Act awarded to the town during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Winchendon Department of Public Works had crew members out fixing the broken water pipe under Sherbert Road in 2023
The Winchendon Department of Public Works had crew members out fixing the broken water pipe under Sherbert Road in 2023

Project plan

PWD officials expect to break ground between late July and early August. The replacement project will take a year to complete, and PWD officials said the timetable would depend on the weather is during the winter. Construction, which is expected to continue during the winter, will have to stop if snow and extreme weather are forecasted.

The construction will run for five miles from the Ashburnham-Winchendon Water Filtration Plant on Lake Rd in Ashburnham to Sherbert Rd and ending at North Ashburnham Rd.

Public Works officials are searching for a contractor with the proper labor and machinery capacity to take on an infrastructure project of this large size. The PWD official's deadline to pick a contractor is early next month.

More: What Winchendon officials are doing as MA agencies decline to replace failing water pipe

The state of the water main

"The issue is not getting worse, but it's not getting younger, and this is extremely essential for residents on Winchendon municipal water," he said. "This is their main and only source of water."

Croteau said this year, they have not experienced any catastrophic breaks on the main water pipe, but they have experienced about 10 to 15 water breaks on smaller pipes that they were able to fix. He said the department always has between $250,000 and $300,000 worth of parts in order to be ready to respond to any leak or break on any given day.

This article originally appeared on Gardner News: Winchendon water main to be replaced - project details