Aquarion Water Co. has replaced its vice-president of operations for Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the company announced Thursday
John Walsh, who has been director of supply operations since early this year, will take the place of Harry Hibbard, who had been the liaison for the town of Hingham during the controversy over water rate increases and the possible purchase of the water infrastructure.
As the vice president of operations for Massachusetts, Hibbard had been involved in several significant disputes with Aquarion.
In addition to conflict with Hingham, Cohasset, and parts of Hull over a recent round of rate increases and infrastructure changes, the town of Oxford is fighting with Aquarion to obtain its water infrastructure.
Aquarion also manages the water for Millbury.
The press release did not explain why the change was made or where Hibbard will be going. Hibbard could not be reached for comment.
Bruce Silverstone, vice president of corporate communications with Connecticut-based Aquarion, said in a phone interview that Hibbard is no longer with the company. He added that Hibbard "had the best interest of customers at heart when he was with the company."
According to Silverstone, Aquarion hopes the change will help the company better achieve success in Massachusetts the way it has in other states.
"In Connecticut, we serve 600,000 customers and last year were selected as second best place to work there. Last year, for fifth year in a row, we had fewest number of customer complaints of any other water utility in state of Connecticut…out of 600,000 customers, we had four complaints," Silverstone said. "Our service, in Connecticut is terrific. And we want to emulate that wherever we are, and we want to emulate that in the confines of Massachusetts as well."
Silverstone wouldn't say if the nature of discussions regarding Hingham's purchase of their water infrastructure would change with the new leadership. He would say only that discussions were ongoing.
For Hingham Selectman Bruce Rabuffo, not much should change.
"The discussions are being driven by the leadership in Connecticut, and there was nothing in the phonecall from [the president that I received] that would lead me to believe they won't continue," Rabuffo said.
Rabuffo didn't have a comment on Hibbard's being let go, but did reference the difficulties the town has had with him in the past.
"They maybe they thought a change was needed, and being in the coproate worl,d I can recall change is sometimes very necessary without it being a comment on the person being replaced," Rabuffo said.
In a release, Charles V. Firlotte, Aquarion President and CEO said he was pleased with the change.
“We are delighted to promote John to head our Massachusetts and New Hampshire operations. He has outstanding engineering skills and experience, and is a great asset to our Aquarion team,” Firlotte said.
According to the press release, Walsh has been employed by Aquarion for 12 years. He received a BS in Civil Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, an MD in Environmental Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, and an MBA in Finance from New York University.
In the press release, Walsh said he was excited to tackle his new role.
“I look forward to enhancing our service and working collaboratively with the communities we serve in Massachusetts and New Hampshire,” Walsh said. “I’ll continue to capitalize on the expertise at Aquarion to improve all aspects of our operations.”