Scituate officials have hired the engineering firm Weston & Sampson for the first phase of a $22 million water pipe replacement program with the hope of starting construction in the spring. The $380,000 process will survey the town’s 24 miles of problematic piping, and will help develop the specifications for bids for the project to go out in the winter. “They would start right away and would be ready to go in the spring with construction,” said Albert Bangert, director of Scituate’s Department of Public Works. Funding for the engineering is temporarily being taken from a project that hasn’t started yet, but money will be recouped through water rates. Funding for the work has yet to be approved, however. Bangert said $5 million to $7.5 million would be needed for the first phase to replace six or seven miles of pipe. According to Bangert, funding for the entire project most likely will be requested at fall Town Meeting and will be paid for through increased water rates. Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.