Hingham Anchor Opinion by Giaff and Alison Ferrante

Vote Yes To Acquire The Town’s Water System

We’re writing to encourage people to go to the April 22 Town Meeting and vote YES to acquire the town water system from Aquarion/Eversource. We’ve lived here since 1987, and 2 of our children and 3 grandchildren live here, so the town’s future means a lot to us.

Consider:

  • Hingham is one of only a few Massachusetts towns using an outside vendor for its water system.

  • 55 cents of every dollar we spend on water goes to Aquarion profit and administration.

  • Aquarion has only spent 33% of the recommended amount on system maintenance

  • 20% of our water is lost from leaky water mains

  • Hingham will save over $1 million every year after exercising its option to buy its water system back

  • The water system is self-funding; no new taxes will be needed.

  • The open market value of the system is nearly twice the price Hingham has locked in

  • The Advisory Committee has spent eight years studying this purchase and is nearly unanimously in favor

  • Aquarion/Eversource has spent $2.5 million on their media blitz opposing the sale.

A YES vote seems to us to be the right thing to do both on principle and from a fiscal standpoint. Control of the town water system makes sense because it both gives us control of our most important resource and removes the need to pay a middleman to profit from it. We will join the vast majority of Massachusetts towns which own their water systems and will allow us to use the money previously given to Aquarion/Eversource for profit and management (55 cents of every dollar) for maintenance and improvement of infrastructure. Aquarion acknowledges that it has only spent 33% of the recommended amount for maintenance. As a result, Hingham loses 20% of its water to leaky pipes. The MWRA indicates that adequate infrastructure maintenance should keep losses below 10%. When asked by Hingham administrators how they decide what to spend on maintenance, Aquarion answered “it depends on the return on investment” - in other words, the profit. Aquarion answers to shareholders who are interested primarily in annual revenue, not in the long term maintenance of an essential town resource. Asserting our control over our water supply will be cheaper than continuing to pay a for profit company to run it for us. The town conservatively will save over $1 million every year. The purchase, an option guaranteed when the town initially ceded control in the late 1800s, is an amazing bargain; the open market value of the asset we are acquiring is nearly double the price we have locked in. So we’ll both have control of our water and a valuable asset which will likely further enhance our town’s attractiveness to the bond market. Our volunteer elected officials have studied the purchase for 12 years and are nearly unanimous in their support of it. The paid representatives of Aquarion are understandably agitated at the prospect of losing such a valuable property at such a low cost - so agitated that they’ve spent $2.5 million on the campaign to confuse Hingham residents about the issue. I hope all Hinghamites will take the small amount of time required to review the information from the Advisory Committee on this issue (a couple of hours is more than enough) and come to town meeting April 22 -and 23 if necessary. The future of the town’s water is worth it.