A major Brookfield water main replacement project first proposed late last year appears to be gaining traction and could be underway by next spring. Village trustees are expected to vote to approve spending $343,000 for engineering work on a plan to replace four miles of 4-inch water mains scattered about the village.

By next spring, trustees may approve seeking bids on replacing those mains, an effort that is expected to cost another $2.65 million. Including the engineering costs, the total price tag for the project is estimated at just under $3 million.

The source of the funding has not been determined. It could be paid directly out of the village’s water and sewer fund, or the village could seek to issue bonds to pay for the work.

“We can sell bonds and still not deeply affect the cash flow,” said Brookfield Finance Director John Dolasinski. “There’s a lot of flexibility.”

Village Engineer Derek Treichel reiterated his plan for replacing all of the village’s remaining 4-inch water mains at the village board’s July 11 meeting. According to Treichel, the village’s water system consists of roughly 60 miles of water mains, of which just four miles are 4-inch mains. Those 4-inch mains are some of the oldest in the village, ranging in age from 60 to 80 years old.

“They’ve reached or exceeded their estimated useful life,” Treichel said. “It’s just a matter of time [before they fail].”

The 4-inch mains also don’t provide adequate flow for fighting fires, according to Treichel, and would be replaced with 8-inch water mains, which is the current standard size for municipal water systems.

Treichel broke the project into both high- and low-priority work. The high-priority mains included 11 areas where the 4-inch mains feed fire hydrants. They were designated high-priority due to that factor, and the total cost of construction for the high-priority mains, not including engineering, is estimated at $1.73 million.

Low-priority mains located in 18 other areas in the villages are ones which only provide water service to homes. Replacing those mains alone would cost $920,000.

The work would include replacing the 4-inch mains with 8-inch ductile iron pipe, installing valves, fire hydrants and new 1-inch copper water service to homes. The cost would also include patching existing pavement if water mains are to be laid under the street or replacing sidewalks, driveway aprons and parkway grass if the mains are installed underneath the sidewalk. It’s likely that the new mains would be laid either in the parkway or under the sidewalks.

The old 4-inch mains would not be taken out of the ground; rather, they would simply be capped and abandoned where they are.

It’s unclear whether trustees favor replacing both the high- and low-priority mains at one time or doing them in stages. The village could receive some additional cost savings by combining the projects, but the savings would be modest.

“The larger the project is, there is going to be some economies of scale,” Treichel said. “It’s hard to say what percentage reduction you’d get. Probably 5 percent, maybe 10.”

If trustees are reluctant to do the construction at one time, the engineering specifications would be good for some time, Treichel said.