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HINGHAM

Hingham votes to buy private water company

Hingham’s Town Meeting voted decisively — 1,482 to 382 — to buy the private water company that serves Hingham, Hull, and a portion of Cohasset for $108 million.

Aquarion Water Co. had fought what it described as a hostile takeover, but an 1879 state law allowed the town to buy the water system if two-thirds of Town Meeting approved.

The April 22 Town Meeting also agreed — by voice votes — to make the selectmen the system’s water commissioners’ to establish an enterprise fund to keep water funds separate from the general fund’ and to borrow $112 million to cover the purchase and transition costs.

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Supporters of the acquisition — including the town’s selectmen — argued that the town could operate the water company less expensively than a private profit-driven company and should exercise more control over water policy.

Opponents had argued that the purchase overburdened the town with debt and that important details — such as who would actually run the water system and at what price — were still up in the air.

The town clerk’s office said that the 1,988 in attendance at the Town Meeting was large but not a record. For example, almost 2,800 people went to the 1997 Town Meeting when school construction projects were on the agenda.


Johanna Seltz can be reached at seltzjohanna@gmail.com