A Connecticut water company has reached an agreement to buy the water company that serves most of Knox County.

Connecticut Water Service Inc. announced July 27 that it has reached an agreement to purchase Aqua Maine Inc., a public water utility serving more than 16,000 customers, or about 48,000 people, in Maine. The sale price is $53.5 million.

Aqua Maine serves Rockland, Camden, Rockport, Thomaston, Owls Head, Union and Warren in the local area as well as Bucksport, Freeport, Greenville, Hartland, Hiram, Millinocket, Oakland, Parsonsfield, Porter, and Skowhegan in Maine.

The main water supply for the Camden and Rockland division of Aqua Maine is Mirror Lake in West Rockport. The back-up supply is Grassy Pond, also in West Rockport.

Connecticut Water Service Inc. is based in Clinton, Conn., and serves nearly 90,000 customers, or about 300,000 people in Connecticut through its public water utility subsidiary, The Connecticut Water Company.

The acquisition is not expected to impact the current rates or service of Aqua Maine customers and the change in ownership should be seamless to customers and communities, according to a news release issued by Connecticut Water.

Judy Wallingford, the president of Aqua Maine, will remain as president of the company.

“Judy and her team have built a solid foundation and the Connecticut Water team looks forward to working with them to enhance customer satisfaction and community relationship,” stated Connecticut Water President and Chief Executive Officer Eric Thornburg.

Thornburg added that the Aqua Maine team will come over as part of the acquisition.

The transaction will need the approval of the Maine Public Utilities Commission. Pending regulatory approval, Connecticut Water anticipates a closing in the first quarter of 2012.

The Camden and Rockland Water Company formed in 1885 with water piped from Mirror Lake. The company later acquired the Rockland Water Company that had formed in 1850 and used Chickawaukie Lake as its water source.

Aqua America bought the Maine water companies in March 1999.

“Connecticut Water is a New England company with a tradition in water service that dates back to the mid-1800s. We pursued Aqua Maine because its employees share our New England heritage and values. They are water professionals who are proud of the water and service they provide to families and communities in Maine, and who are responsible stewards of the natural resources entrusted to them,” Thornburg said in the news release.

Wallingford said Connecticut Water’s leadership team is well respected in the industry and she looks forward to working with them.

“In my discussions with Eric and the rest of his team it is clear that they share our commitment to serving customers and communities while protecting the environment,” Wallingford said.

For 20 years, Connecticut Water has hired an independent research firm to survey customers in order to gauge their satisfaction with the water and service provided by the company. Ratings have consistently been over 85 percent, which reflect world class customer service, the company stated.

Connecticut Water’s release states that it has long been a responsible steward of the environment and since 2000 has worked with local communities and land trust organizations to permanently protect more than 800 acres of land for open space and recreation. This is in addition to the 6,000 acres of land Connecticut Water maintains as protected watershed land and aquifer protection areas.

Connecticut Water is purchasing Aqua Maine from the Aqua America Inc. water company based in Bryn Mawr, Pa. Under the agreement, Connecticut Water will purchase all of the capital stock of Aqua Maine Inc. for an aggregate cash purchase price of approximately $35.8 million, subject to certain adjustments at closing, including approximately $17.7 million of long-term debt as of Dec. 31, 2010, reflecting a total enterprise value of approximately $53.5 million.

Connecticut Water Service Inc. is one of the 10 largest investor-owned water utilities in the country with a market capitalization of nearly $225 million. Its stock trades on the NASDAQ Global Select stock market under the ticker symbol CTWS.

Connecticut Water serves nearly 300,000 people in 55 towns in Connecticut. The towns served include: Ashford, Avon, Beacon Falls, Bethany, Bolton, Brooklyn, Burlington, Canton, Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Columbia, Coventry, Deep River, East Granby, East Haddam, East Hampton, East Windsor, Ellington, Enfield, Essex, Farmington, Griswold, Guilford, Hebron, Killingly, Killingworth, Lebanon, Madison, Manchester, Mansfield, Marlborough, Middlebury, Naugatuck, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Plainfield, Plymouth, Portland, Prospect, Somers, South Windsor, Stafford, Stonington, Suffield, Thomaston, Thompson, Tolland, Vernon, Voluntown, Waterbury, Westbrook, Willington, Windsor Locks and Woodstock.