Above – Milford Water Company’s source of water – Echo Lake.

                   Reservoir Company Was Formed in Milford for Mill Fire Protection

                                                            By Gordon E. Hopper

In June 1880, a water reservoir company was formed in Milford for the benefit of mill owners on the CharlesRiver and to protect the town against loss by fire after a charter for the Milford Water Works had been signedby Governor John D. Long.

According to Adin Ballou in his 1882 “History of the Town of Milford,” the Milford Water Company had achartered right to issue capital stock to the amount of $100,000.

“Moses Joy, Jr. has contracted to build and complete the works on or before July 1, 1882,” Ballou wrote.The reservoir company was organized in March 1881, with Moses Joy, Jr., Charles W. Shippee, John P.Daniels, E. L. Wires and Charles F. Claflin as directors. Officials included Joy as president, Daniels astreasurer and Shippee as secretary.

On May 7, 1881, the Town of Milford made its first contract with the Milford Water Company for water neededfor fire-fighting purposes. Sixty hydrants were called for at an annual rental of $2800. Water services wereinaugurated in Milford when fires were started in the company pumping station boilers by E.L. Wires.

Water main extensions into Hopedale were started in September 1882, and land was purchased at thecorner of Congress and Fountain streets in 1886 for the location for a standpipe.

In 1887 the townspeople of Milford voted not to purchase the water works.

In June 1887, a 400,000 gallon well was installed making a total of three wells and a storage capacity of900,000 gallons of water.

Agitation about purchasing the water company rose again in 1891, with the Town Solicitor, J.H. Woodadvising that the town could not legally buy the water works. At a Special Town Meeting held in April thatsame year, it was again voted not to purchase the company.

The main source of Milford’s water supply has always been at Echo Lake in Hopkinton, a reservoir ownedentirely by the Milford Water Company. A 22-foot high dam was built there in order to form a large reservoir.

Company records indicate that in 1890, the company supplied water to a 5,000 gallon wooden tank ownedby the Grafton & Upton Railroad, when the railroad’s yard was located in Milford.

On June 28, 1901, it was reported in the Framingham Tribune, “The Milford Water Company has taken landfrom several farmers in the Hayden Rowe section of Hopkinton and a valuable spring from Mr. Bowker. Theyintend to enlarge their source of water.”

By 1905, four filter beds had been built at the Dilla Street pumping station and the dam at Echo Lake hadbeen rebuilt from granite blocks quarried at the site. The pumping station was built of bricks and masonrywith a slate roof at that time. It was equipped with a steam engine and a direct acting pump. The steam engine required the use of a 75-foot tall chimney; a landmark for many years.

Under plans developed by the civil engineering firm of Metcalf and Eddy, the old dam was undermined anda stout wooden cofferdam was constructed in t he lake about 50 feet in front of the existing dam. Workmendug under the dam and installed a larger foundation that was capable of supporting the additionalstonework needed to raise the spillway by ten feet. The lake covers 165 acres and, when full, contains 384million gallons of water.

The Dilla Street filter system was rebuilt during the 1930s and three large diesel engines were put intooperation at that time. Several large electric motors were installed in the early 1950s.

The Draper Company in Hopedale announced on January 23, 1930 that it had taken over the controlling interest of the Milford Water Company, a condition that continued until 1949. Stock in the firm had been controlled by Draper since 1919. Controlling interests were held by Allen Symonds and Ralph White from1949 until their passing, at which time the interests were controlled by their estates. Milford Daily News -Clipping from John Butcher’s Hopedale history collection.

The Milford Daily News article below is from 1981.

Milford Water Company Acquisition Archive

On February 26, 2021, the Department of Public Utilities (“DPU” or “Department”) issued its report to the Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) as to the amount of compensation to be paid to the current owners of Milford Water Company (“MWC” or “Company”) upon acquisition by the Town. Based on the record evidence and a valuation date as of December 31, 2018, the DPU determined the purchase price for the Company’s assets to be $66,395,908. This figure does not include post-2018 capital improvements that the Company estimates to be $10,000,000. The Town argued that the company’s value was $40,485,326.  The Water Company argued that the value was $148,000,000.  

Prior to entering this adjudicatory proceeding, the Town had determined there was real value in immediately owning and controlling our water supply while avoiding the costs of a drawn-out process.  That determination was based on the Town’s ability to reach an agreement with the Water Company for a stock purchase acquisition. The Town and the Water Company agreed upon a purchase price of $63,000,000.00. However, when a final agreement could not be reached as to specific terms for the purchase, the Select Board pursued exercise of the Town’s right to acquire the system under the statutory process with the same goal of acquiring the MWC assets. Pursuant to 2014 clarification of the law the Town retains the right to decline purchase of the Water Company assets if not satisfied with the DPU’s determination.  Conversely, the MWC is bound by the DPU’s valuation determination once finally accepted and ordered by the Supreme Judicial Court.  

On June 8, 2021, the Town of Milford and the Milford Water Company signed a Letter of Intent. The next step in this process is for Town Meeting to vote on August 2, 2021, on the proposed price not to exceed to $79,000,000.  In the meantime, the Town is conducting the Financial and Business Due Diligence of the Milford Water Company.

Throughout the entire process to acquire the MWC assets the Select Board has prioritized protecting both the water supply and the Town’s finances.  We remain steadfast in our belief that the purchase and ultimate control of the Town’s water supply is in Milford’s best interest.  Our goal remains the same; to ensure the Town owns and operates a community water system that is transparent, responsive, and accountable to all residents.

The Select Board commends the significant efforts of the many Town Officials involved in the long and complex process. In particular the Board wants to recognize and commend the significant efforts of the legal team at Womble Bond Dickinson, and in particular lead counsel Atty. Jed Nosal.

We will continue to update the residents as we review the DPU decision and determine the next steps needed to acquire this valuable asset for the Town. 

The full 196 page DPU decision is posted on the Town’s website here: Supreme Judicial Court & Department of Public Utilities Water Company Decision 02-26-2021          

From Milford town website.  

Milford water source - Echo Lake.

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