With a goal of assuring that Bayonne has an uninterrupted and increased supply of water, the city has embarked on a campaign to raise funding for, and to eventually replace, corroded sections of the Bayonne Aqueduct that carries water from Kearny to here, a city official said.
Part of the aqueduct broke on Jan. 15 and caused Bayonne to lose water for the better part of a workday, although that mishap is unrelated to the problem that the city is trying to fix, according to Bayonne Municipal Utilities Authority Executive Director Tim Boyle.
Bayonne’s water flows from reservoirs in Passaic County via the aqueduct underneath the Hackensack River through Kearny and Jersey City before arriving here.
From 1896 until now, the aqueduct has run under the same section of the Hackensack River. Somewhere between the 1920s and ‘30s, the aqueduct was upgraded with two, twin 30-inch cast-iron pipes, according to Boyle. These lasted until 1979, when they were replaced with two new 30-inch ductile iron pipes. However, the new iron pipes lasted only 12 years, when problems in 1991 necessitated the cutting of a a 100-foot section and the installation of a new piece.
The problem was not totally fixed, and in June 2012, the second of two leaks were discovered in the northern most section of the new pipe. Several attempts were made to repair the pipeline, including the uses of metal putty, a leak clamp, and a clock-spring clamp, a high-tech Band-Aid for pipes. None worked. Eventually a combination of the three was used; the clock-spring bandage, a redesigned clamp covering the leak, and the application of mortar.
But the leak lives on, according to Boyle.
A newer process of “directional drilling,” which would lay the aqueduct pipe under the riverbed instead of in the riverbed where it now is, will, it’s hoped, solve the problem. But the cost is expected to be between $6 and $9 million. Three quarters of a million dollars has been spent on the most recent fixes.
The city is hoping to acquire at least $2 million from a grant from the United States Economic Development Authority.
“From a city management perspective, it’s something we need to be concerned with.” – Tim Boyle.
Last month Boyle sent a letter to Bayonne stakeholders, several of whom currently do business in the city and others who soon will, to seek their support, according to City Planner Suzanne Mack.
“The letter was sent to the 10 biggest water consumers in Bayonne, including the County of Hudson and the Bayonne Golf Club, people who would benefit from the grant,” Mack said. “I received some letters back from them and the biggest potential users of the system.”
Among those who sent letters to the city are the Alessi Organizational Development Company, Bayonne Energy Company, Bayonne Golf Club, Cape Liberty Cruise Port, Fidelco Realty Group, the Kaplan Companies, and the Waitex Group.
A local governmental agency, the Hudson County Economic Development Strategy Committee, has agreed to discuss the initiative at its next quarterly meeting and to include it in its draft plan to be circulated.
Seeking all financial options
Boyle acknowledged that there is not a lot of grant money available for such projects, so the U.S. Economic Development Authority funding is important. He said Bayonne will also seek a no-interest or low-interest loan for the project.
“We are finance shopping to have the work done,” he said. “We’re looking at all possible funding sources.”
The city will also have to get the necessary permits, as well as coordinate with other state and federal agencies doing work on various other infrastructure projects in and near the section of the Hackensack River where the aqueduct crosses.
Hoping for 2017 project start
“With 65,000 residents and a fairly robust [development] interest in our city that relies on that water, we’re looking for a 1,000-year fix,” Boyle said.
Until now, the city’s water delivery has not been affected by this problem, according to Boyle.
“But from a city management perspective, it’s something we need to be concerned with,” he said.
If all goes well with the city’s grant application and other measures, the project should get underway early in 2017.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.