Hingham Journal Letter

Letter to the Editor of the Hingham Journal, by Eileen McIntyre

Supporting water company acquisition, not taking a side

In mailings, Facebook postings, and full-page ads, we have been deluged with what some may initially view as sound advice – making sure you get “both sides of the story” about acquiring the water company. “Both sides” suggests there are competing narratives. But that’s not the case here.

The Town does not start from one “side” or another. Unlike a company with a natural interest in maintaining a profitable revenue stream, Hingham’s hard-working committees and elected officials were able to enter this process with an open mind and follow the facts before taking a position.

Having spent many years in a corporate environment, with executive responsibilities for Corporate Communications and Investor Relations, I respect the ROI needs of companies like Aquarion, and their need to balance financial returns with the servicing of customers and the meeting of regulatory requirements. There is nothing inherently wrong with that. Our country is built on a combination of public and private interests. But as a former corporate executive, and as a citizen, I find it quite distressing to observe the misleading information and divisive rhetoric central to Aquarion communications as it fights to maintain a reliable revenue stream.

Municipal ownership of a water company allows a focus on customers (us ratepayers), as well as the long-term sustainability of our watershed, without competing for resources with a profit “bucket”. Given the importance of our water resources – and of the operation of the water treatment plan and delivery system to all households served in Hingham, Hull and No. Cohasset, I feel fortunate that Town ownership is an alternative that we can pursue.

Hingham’s open government meetings, recording for viewing on community cable or digital replay on HarborMedia.org, have displayed impressive transparency in the step-by-step process that the Town has followed. Only after rigorous evaluation was any recommendation made to voters.

The well attended Selectmen’s Forum on March 9th was exactly the type of healthy vetting that Hingham voters expect before making an informed decision at Town Meeting. I so appreciated the presence of Hull water customers, whose questions were heard respectfully and addressed clearly. As the forum made clear, it is in the interest of the Town of Hingham to ensure that all water company customers are served well.

I am quite impressed with the Town’s financial and operational planning ahead of an acquisition decision. I also feel confident that the transitional work to be done, should voters approve the acquisition, will be handled with best-in-class standards, continuing to access all expertise required. We are well prepared for Hingham voters to exercise their right to vote on whether to acquire the water company.

I will vote enthusiastically for Town acquisition of this critically important asset.

Eileen McIntyre, 111 Martins Lane