A $1.7 million project to improve Lansford's water system is expected to begin in March.

The Lansford-Coaldale Joint Water Authority had anticipated starting the project last fall. The delay, said water authority Chairman Toby Krajcirik, "had to do with the closing of our PennVEST loan and because of the weather we didn't want to start a major project like that in winter."

The project is expected to take about a year and includes refurbishing and painting the borough's 1.5 million-gallon storage tank, building a new 715,239-gallon storage tank, replacing the 125,000-gallon storage tank in Coaldale and replacing the water main along East Abbott Street in Lansford.

The water tanks are 30 years old and are rusting and corroded and the water main is too small and too old to ensure sufficient flow to fight fires, water authority officials have said.

The boroughs use an average of 700,000-800,000 gallons of water a day.

The project will require excavation along 3,100 feet of East Abbott Street and digging along a short stretch at Walnut and Abbott streets in Lansford, a section that was repaved after the borough's $2.9 million sewer separation project.

Bids for the work were opened in September.

Corrosion Control Corp., New Castle, Del., will refurbish and paint the 1.5 million gallon water tank in Lansford for $377,900. P.S.I. Pumping Solutions, Inc., York Springs, Adams County, will build a 715,239-gallon tank in Lansford and replace the 125,000-gallon tank in Coaldale for $556,000. Chilewski Enterprises, Fleetville, Lackawanna County, will do the related electrical work for $16,700, and Bellview Pump Sales and Service, Walnutport, will replace the water main along East Abbott and Pardee streets for $542,120.

The cost of the project also includes engineering fees.

The water authority is paying for the project through a $2.1 million financing agreement from PennVEST, and has applied for federal stimulus grant money. It also raised the water rate from $52.30 to $68 a quarter for the first 7,000 gallons, the first increase since 1995.