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Hingham sues Aquarion over water system price

Posted by boston.com  July 5, 2013 04:13 PM

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With no agreement on a purchase price, the town of Hingham has filed suit to advance its plan to purchase the regional water system of Aquarion Water Co.

On Wednesday, the town filed suit against the water company and Aquarion Water Capital, seeking a court-decided purchase price for the public water-supply system, according to a press release issued by Hingham's Board of Selectmen.

The lawsuit, filed in the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County, takes issue with the $185 million that Aquarion says would be needed to buy the water system, which serves Hingham, Hull and part of Cohasset.

The town calculates the water infrastructure’s purchase price at $28 million, plus $32 million to address long-term debt, based on the formula laid out in the 1879 water system charter.

In an interview Friday, John Walsh, vice president of Aquarion operations for Massachusetts and New Hampshire, said, “We are aware of filing and we will be reviewing it and respond accordingly. We are committed to serve residents in Hingham, Hull and North Cohasset.”

He added that Hingham's price "was not realistic."

Hingham selectmen last week accepted a recommendation by the town's Water Study Acquisition Committee to buy the water system. The town subsequently made an offer to buy the system, but officials would not disclose the dollar amount of the offer.

Hingham officials have said that acquiring the system would reduce costs and produce up to $80 million in savings over the next 22 years.

All Hingham and Hull residents all get their water from Aquarion, as well as about 300 customers in Cohasset. Hull and Cohasset would not have to come up with any money to acquire the system, but the cost of the acquisiton would be recouped through the rates paid by customers in the three towns.

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