Broken water main won’t be repaired until after Thanksgiving, council president says city may renegotiate contract with SUEZ

HOBOKEN – The city says the end is in sight for fully restoring water and repairing two water main breaks that have caused major flooding in southwest Hoboken since Sunday, Nov. 22.
An alert on the city’s website on Wednesday, Nov. 25 said “SUEZ (formerly) emergency crews gained a foothold on restoring full system pressures to residents and businesses throughout Hoboken and Jersey City by stopping the flow of water being discharged from a 36-inch diameter broken valve at Newark and Harrison Streets…at approximately 3:45 a.m. this morning.”
As of Wednesday, construction crews are installing a new resilient 24 inch water main, city officials said in a press release.
“Once repairs on the broken water main in Hoboken are complete and a determination has been made that the connection through Jersey City is stable, Hoboken’s water source will be switched back through Jersey City,” the release added. “This will not occur until after Thanksgiving.”
After a main broke on Sunday before 10 a.m. causing a loss of water to residents in the area, as well as Jersey City, SUEZ worked to repair the valve, before an additional 36-inch pipe broke. Mayor Dawn Zimmer announced on Tuesday, Nov. 24 that the city was temporarily using a Weehawken transmission line to supply water to the city.
City Council President Ravi Bhalla told The Hoboken Reporter on Wednesday that the city may renegotiate or terminate their contract with SUEZ water.
“What we’re seeing is the impact of a poorly negotiated agreement by a prior administration and chronic underinvestment in our water infrastructure by the company with which the city contracts with,” Bhalla said Wednesday afternoon over the phone. “As far working with Mayor Zimmer and the City Council, We’re working to review legal options including but not limited to, re-negotiating or terminating that agreement.”
In 2013, when a high volume of main breaks happened concurrently, Zimmer held a press conference to discuss how the issue was being addressed. She said that Hoboken is paying for investments that should have been made long ago. She noted that in 1994, the city entered into a deal with United Water to take over operations of the system. The water company gave the city money to plug budget gaps but, according to Zimmer, the deal allowed United Water to make a profit in the long term without reinvesting enough in the infrastructure.
“Our agreements with United Water do require that they spend a small amount annually in capital expenditures or repairs – $350,000 per year,” she said at the press conference in 2013. “About 80 percent of that is spent just repairing our broken mains, and there is little left over for infrastructure improvements.”
The boil-water advisory was lifted Tuesday, but on Wednesday, officials reiterated that it might be reenacted as repairs were made.
Residents were advised to continually check for updates online. (You can also find the Hudson Reporter’s Tweets at @Hudson_Reporter.) The city said they would continue to supply water through trucks at various locations, and anybody commuting into the city was urged to take public transportation because of potential tieups near the southern end of town.
Hoboken is no stranger to water main breaks. In 2010 there was about 21 main repairs completed by United Water, up from 10 in 2009 and the highest number of main repairs was 37 in 1995, according to past stories by the Reporter.

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