February 12, 2020 by Carol Britton Meyer
The water system serving Hingham, Hull, and part of Cohasset recently got a new name -- Weir River Water System. Now there's a new operator -- subject to the execution of a contract -- both part of the process of transitioning to full ownership following Town Meeting's decision to purchase the portion of the system that serves the three towns, from Aquarion Water Company.
Town Administrator and Chief Procurement Officer for the Town of Hingham Tom Mayo announced at last night's selectmen's meeting that Suez Water Environmental Services (SUEZ) submitted "the most advantageous proposal" in response to the Request for Proposals (RFP) issued by the town for the operation and maintenance of the water system. The other respondents were Woodard and Curran and Veolia, both ranked "advantageous."
Last night Mayo recommended awarding the contract to SUEZ -- subject to the approval and execution of a contract by the Hingham board of selectmen, acting as water commissioners, at a future meeting.
SUEZ received the highest "technical proposal" ranking of "highly advantageous" and submitted the lowest price proposal -- $45.26 million without billing services or $52.25 million including billing services for the total possible 10-year contract period, according to Mayo.
"The town undertook an extensive procurement and evaluation process to select a qualified vendor to operate and maintain the Weir River Water System," Mayo stated. "I am proud of the process we have gone through and confident in the results." He expressed appreciation to the RFP evaluation team, consultants, and town staff who assisted with "this important work."
The RFP Evaluation Committee consisted of Hingham Assistant Town Administrator Michelle Monsegur, Hingham resident and member of the Water Transition and Evaluation Committee Richard Norman, Water Transition Consultant Jeff Nutting, Town of Hull's Director of Wastewater Operations (appointed by the Hull Board of Selectmen), Environmental Partners Water Transition Consultant Ryan Trahan, and Hingham resident and member of the Water Transition and Evaluation Committee Joe Welch. The committee's recommendation was unanimous.
Xavier Castro, President, SUEZ Environmental Services, North America, told the Hingham Anchor in an email following the meeting: “This new partnership will allow the Town of Hingham to truly transform its water system. By incorporating the latest technology, increasing efficiencies, and enhancing the overall customer experience SUEZ will bring a new level of innovation to the town. SUEZ is very proud to be a part of this transformation and to support Hingham in building a sustainable future for generations to come.”
Castro also confirmed, "As part of our new partnership, SUEZ will be interviewing all existing Aquarion staff for potential positions."
This aspect was brought up at the meeting by a gentleman who said he was there on behalf of Aquarion employees. Both Mayo and Selectmen Chair Karen Johnson confirmed that the town has been asking a lot of questions and has the employees' interests in mind. In fact, one of the RFP criteria was whether a potential operator was willing to interview current water company employees.
SUEZ North America operates across all 50 states and Canada with 2,825 employees dedicated to environmental sustainability and smart and sustainable resource management. The company provides drinking water, wastewater, and waste collection service to 6.6 million people on a daily basis; treats over 560 million gallons of water and over 450 million gallons of wastewater each day; delivers water treatment and advanced network solutions to 16,000 industrial and municipal sites; processes 160,000 tons of waste for recycling; rehabilitates and maintains water assets for more than 4,000 municipal and industrial customers; and manages $4.1 billion in total assets. The company posted revenues of $1.1 billion in 2018 and is a subsidiary of Paris-based SUEZ.
The transition, which is still in the “good husbandry” stage (Aquarion’s obligation to provide service while the details of the purchase are being worked out), is expected to occur no earlier than this spring, according to the timeline contained in the Water System Operator Request for Proposals (RFP) that was issued last September.