Joe McElroy sent this letter to Cohasset, Hingham and Hull selectmen

Joe McElroy sent this letter to Cohasset, Hingham and Hull selectmen

July 16, 2014

Subject: Aquarion  (Read earlier article on related material:http://wp.me/p3o8kv-3NR)

Reference: Hull Selectmen Meeting with Aquarion Officials: 7/15/2014

from Joe McElroy 

At referenced meeting, the Hull Town Manager made a number of points:

  1. Despite numerous meetings, issues are growing in number and severity
  2. Aquarion communications with municipalities were flawed during the June/July 2014 very serious water ban. Note: It was agreed that further coordination would be needed to improve on procedures.
  3. Aquarion is investing annually $800,000 (TM estimate) to $1,600,000 (Aquarion est) in its infrastructure. Note: The Hull TM suggested that either number appeared insufficient. He went on to suggest that $800-$1600K would facilitate a bonding of a least $15-$20M that could finance infrastructure improvements.
  4. Aquarion must submit a report on the June/July 2014 incident to the State – Aquarion has thirty days from ? to do that. NOTE: All three Towns should be copied on that report.

Other revelations included:

  1. An estimated 20% of Aquarion water is lost to leaking
  2. The Aquarion representative (VP Walsh) stated that, during the June/July 2014 very serious pumping crisis, Aquarion was able to meet demand. Note: This is obviously not the case – since year 2000 – Aquarion imposed water restrictions in all except year 2009.
  3. Aquarion did not satisfactorily answer questions about how they were prepared to deal with likely increased demand (due to new construction, both commercial and residential)
  4. The Aquarion representative continued to state that only irrigation and sprinkler system total bans were instituted. Note: I spoke with the Aquarion public relations representative on 7/14 and the Editor of the Mariner – both acknowledged confusion. Three Aquarion phone calls and signs on Rte3A and elsewhere continue to say that there is a “total ban” to include hand held hoses: “no outside watering.” I questioned the Aquarion representative on why no restrictions have been imposed on commercial users – not even car washes. I did not receive a satisfactory answer.
  5. The Aquarion representative held out the possibility of opening new wells. This seems highly unlikely based on my discussion with Aquarion’s public relations spokesperson who said that the Hingham Raw Water Infrastructure Area is already “stressed.” It is therefore unlikely that the State would permit any additional wells. It appears that no one is exploring whether wells could be permitted in Hull and North Cohasset – at least the possibility was not discussed.

My observations and comments:

  1. More than ten years ago, I met with the than Aquarion VP on the same issues at the Aquarion’s Hingham office and at the Cohasset Water Department office – no progress in all that time.
  2. Clearly, Aquarion is concerned for its management and investors. Safety and service to Aquarion ratepayers appears to be secondary. It appears that Aquarion’s business plan is to resist a hostile takeover (by Hingham) – failing that, to make minimal infrastructure investments while demanding a maximum price if there is a forced taking.
  3. As of July 15, 2014 – Cohasset has not imposed any water restrictions on its clients. Cohasset provided some water to Aquarion at the beginning of the water ban, but insufficient to stave off the “crisis.” Could Cohasset do more to “top-off” Aquarion reservoirs when it has an abundance of water? Note: I believe Cohasset has back-up well(s) that are not active.
  4. North Cohasset should be incorporated into the Cohasset Water District – all related expenses should be borne by Aquarion. Cohasset ratepayers will benefit by having a larger client base to promote reductions/containment. Aquarion will benefit by having about 350 fewer homes drawing off its water supplies.
  5. There was no discussion of options such as desalinization, capturing storm water runoff. Conservation measures (such as more efficient plumbing) were only superficially addressed.

 

© Copyright 2014 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed
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