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HINGHAM

Hingham picks firm to run local water company

The town of Hingham has chosen the international firm SUEZ to run the local water company.

Hingham Town Meeting voted in the spring of 2019 to buy the water company — which services all of Hingham and Hull and part of north Cohasset — from Aquarion Water at a cost of approximately $108 million. Officials hope to finalize the sale by April 1, when the town-owned utility will be renamed the Weir River Water System.

Town Administrator Tom Mayo told selectmen at their Feb. 11 meeting that he would award the 10-year operating contract to SUEZ, which says it provides water and waste recycling services to more than 7.5 million people in the United States and Canada.

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Mayo said SUEZ had submitted the lowest bid — $45.3 million over 10 years, or $52.2 million if the company takes care of billing customers — and was ranked highest of the three companies vying for the contract. The other bidders were Veolia Water and Woodard and Curran.

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When studying whether to buy the private company, town officials estimated originally that it would cost $3 million to $4 million annually to operate the water system. Selectwoman Mayor Power said the cost will be higher because the town has increased the scope of work involved. For example, she said SUEZ will be responsible for more preventive maintenance than originally required, as well as more frequent meter reading.

Mayo said SUEZ had agreed to interview current staff running the Hingham-based water system, but had made no guarantees that they would retain their jobs.

Johanna Seltz can be reached at seltzjohanna@gmail.com.