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Trying to reduce the town's high water rates, officials are studying the possibility of building a desalination plant to supply Hull with its own drinking water.
The town now buys water from the Aquarion Water Co. (formerly known as the Massachusetts-American Water Co.) that also supplies Hingham and part of Cohasset. According to a report compiled by the engineering firm Woodard and Curran, each household in Hull has paid roughly $799 this year for water.
''The costs are spiraling, and we're trying to keep the costs down,'' said David Irwin, who chairs the town's water resources committee.
Woodard and Curran have estimated that a desalination plant could reduce the cost of water to $532 a year, which would include the costs of building the facility. Although officials emphasize that the discussion is in the preliminary stages, Helen Priola, senior vice president for the engineering firm, said the project appears viable so far.
''The town has to decide if they want to go forward with this,'' said John MacLeod, who manages the town's light plant and sits on the water resources committee.
Officials are considering the Nantasket pier on George Washington Boulevard and the current site of the town's municipal light plant on Edgewater Road as possible locations for a desalination facility. If the light plant site were chosen, MacLeod said, the light department would likely consider moving its offices to Town Hall.
The proposal involves building a plant that would produce up to 2.5 million gallons of water a day, well in excess of the town's average demand of 1 million gallons a day.
MacLeod said the town could decide to sell or bottle additional water. According to the engineering report, the estimated cost of the project is $14.4 million, including the cost of buying the existing water distribution system from Aquarion. The plant would use a filtration system to remove the salt from ocean water, and return the concentrated brine to the bay.