RUMFORD — Town officials plan to seek a nearly $1.5 million state grant for “very, very large box culverts” on three streams that could have implications on the public water supply, Town Manager George O’Keefe said at Wednesday’s meeting of selectmen.

Public Works Superintendent Dale Roberts is gathering information for the application to pay for replacement culverts on East Andover, Whippoorwill and Beliveau roads, all near Ellis River aquifer, the town water supply. Typically, the culverts are 9 feet tall and 18 feet long, O’Keefe said.

“Those areas are vulnerable and they have a history of washing out and overtopped by floodwaters,” O’Keefe said. “In 2023 alone, we spent over $100,000, and we had to repair the Beliveau crossing twice.”

“The reason why that matters from a public drinking water supply standpoint,” he said, “is because if you had a culvert collapse while an oil truck was driving over it or some other type of co-occurring environmental event, resulting in a culvert washout or something like that, you would have implications for the drinking water supply in town.”

Financing would be through the Maine Infrastructure Adaptation Fund, which was first announced by Gov. Janet Mills in December 2021. It was a recommendation of the state’s climate action plan, Maine Won’t Wait, to support community efforts to build climate resilience in Maine.

O’Keefe said the state will score according to sustainability criteria and how the work reduces climate vulnerability.

“I think we have a very good chance” of scoring well, he said. “Another reason we’re going to score well is that Pine Tree Engineering and Rob Prue were able to get us a design packet with rough estimates for how much the cost would be for all of them.”

A decision on the application could be made within the next couple of months. If approved, there will be 5% local match estimated at $80,000, which would come from the permanent roads and state aid accounts, he said.

“If we get this, we’re projecting that the work will be done next spring into summer using contract labor supervised by Roberts,” O’Keefe said. “These are very, very large box culverts and some of that is precast and has to be ordered ahead of time, and they have to get people in place to mobilize on it.”

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