Hoboken Expands Its Water Distribution Following Yesterday’s Water Main Break, Adds Porta Johns

PHOTO CREDIT: Veolia Water North Jersey

Veolia Water North Jersey continues to work on repairing the ruptured main at the intersection of Observer Highway and Madison Street.  The City has just announced that it has added more water distribution locations, plus it has announced that porta johns will be available beginning at 1:30 this afternoon for residents still without water.

Mayor Ravi Bhalla has issued the following update as of 12:45 pm:

Veolia is continuing to locate and isolate the water main break in order to conduct repairs and restore pressure.  Veolia has not issued a boil water advisory and according to Veolia, the water is safe to drink but residents throughout the city will continue to experience low to no water pressure.

The City has added an additional 10 water distribution locations where residents can fill their own containers with drinkable water, with a focus on seniors and buildings and buildings with larger senior populations.

The complete list of locations is as follows:

  1. 400 First Street
  2. 15 Church Towers
  3. 514 Madison Street
  4. 455 Ninth Street
  5. 11th and Shipyard Lane
  6. 14th and Shipyard Lane
  7. 700 First Street
  8. 4th and Jackson
  9. 2 Marine View Plaza
  10. Brandt School, on 9th Street between Park Avenue and Garden Street
  11. Hoboken University Medical Center, on Clinton Street between Third and Fourth Streets.(location slightly updated)
  12. 220 Adams St.
  13. 221 Jackson St.
  14. Fox Hills, 311 13th St.
  15. Fourth and Harrison Streets
  16. Columbian Towers, 76 Bloomfield St.
  17. Church Towers,  5th and Clinton Streets

The City will also have porta johns available for residents without water at the below locations starting at approximately 1:30 p.m.:

  1. YMCA, 1300 Washington St.
  2. 400 First Street
  3. 15 Church Towers
  4. 514 Madison Street
  5. 455 Ninth Street
  6. 11th and Shipyard Lane
  7. 14th and Shipyard Lane
  8. Hoboken University Medical Center, on Clinton Street between Third and Fourth Streets.(location slightly updated)
  9. 220 Adams St.
  10. 221 Jackson St.
  11. Fox Hills, 311 13th St.
  12. Fourth and Harrison Streets
  13. Columbian Towers, 76 Bloomfield St.
  14. Church Towers,  5th and Clinton Streets

The Hoboken Fire Department will have a water tanker of non-drinkable water for dishwashing, bathing, toilet flushing, etc, available at the Hoboken Fire House at 13th Street and Washington Street. The Fire Department may use the tanker at various points throughout the day for fire suppression, as needed, so it may not be readily available at all hours. Residents must bring their own containers to fill. This water is not drinkable.

The Office of Emergency Management has activated the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT.) CERT will visit the City’s six senior buildings to assist Hoboken seniors in need of water and additional assistance.

Below is an update and FAQ from Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla regarding the water main break.

Unfortunately, the water main break that has affected water pressure and service to Hoboken remains ongoing. I completely understand the enormous disruptions to the daily lives of almost everyone in our Mile Square; residents have every right to be disappointed and upset at the situation. I too share in this disappointment, as both your Mayor and as a resident of Hoboken.

I want to use this opportunity to provide you with an update, and answers to some questions that have been posed on social media and by those who have reached out directly to me.

Is this water main break due to a development project or a City-related project?

No, the work that caused the water main break was not due to any City-related project, or work related to any redevelopment project.

What can we do to hold those responsible who broke the water main?

As mentioned in previous communication, it certainly appears a contractor for PSE&G damaged a water main near the Hoboken/Jersey City border on Observer Highway during their gas line upgrades, a project which has been ongoing. While Hoboken appreciates the upgrades to Hoboken’s gas infrastructure, this type of accident is inexcusable. Hoboken will conduct a thorough investigation to determine all relevant facts from the water main break.  Given the costs incurred and major frustrations we have all experienced due to this major disruption in service, we will hold all responsible parties accountable to the greatest extent possible.

Our primary focus at the moment is supporting Veolia’s efforts to isolate the broken water main and obtain additional drinking water for the City. However, once all repairs are done, I can assure residents that we will take all necessary and appropriate action.

When will water service be restored, and is there an ETA?

When the water main break was discovered, the next step for crews was to isolate the exact location of the break, so the main could be repaired and replaced. While Veolia had hoped to locate this precise location overnight, unfortunately they have been unable to do so. While Veolia has been taking additional steps including the installation of a linestop, which will mitigate the flow of water into the region of the break, the exact location has still yet to be found by their crews, as of Tuesday morning.

Their efforts have been further compounded by the large amount of underground infrastructure in the vicinity of the break. Only when the water main break is isolated, can repairs begin, and only when repairs begin, will water pressure return to a more normal level, with an eventual full return to service. Given that the source of the water main break has not been isolated yet (despite their best efforts, with crews working throughout the night) Veolia is unable to give a precise ETA on water pressure returning. Water pressure will continue to fluctuate, with some having little to no water pressure, while the water main break remains unrepaired. While I know this is disappointing to hear, as we all heavily rely on water service for everyday aspects of our daily lives.

Given the facts as presented to me at an emergency management meeting this morning, Veolia is advising residents that they should unfortunately plan for a continued disruption in water service tonight and into tomorrow morning. We will continue to stay in close contact with emergency crews to update residents on a more concrete time frame, as Veolia continues to diligently search for the source of the break.

Why did I have water pressure last night, after the water main broke earlier in the day, but I don’t have water pressure now?

Veolia determined that to help expedite repairs and to maintain some level of water pressure, without having to issue a boil water advisory, a switch to the Weehawken connection was necessary last night. Due to the change in water service, along with the unrepaired water main break, water pressure continues to fluctuate throughout the City. Additionally, during times of high-usage (during the morning and evening hours when more residents are home and using water), there are additional fluctuations and stresses on the system, that don’t normally occur when the system is fully operational.

Is the water safe to drink?

According to Veolia, there is no current boil water advisory, and the water has been deemed safe to drink. There may be some discoloration, as water pressure fluctuates. Residents are advised to run their water, if they have water pressure, to flush out any discoloration.

Why did we pick the locations for water buffalos (large water jugs) the way we did?

We have prioritized senior buildings, or locations with larger concentrations of senior populations that have been reported to be without water, as seniors don’t always have the ability to travel or drive to certain locations. We will continue to add stations with drinkable water as we obtain additional supplies, an effort which is ongoing.

What is Hoboken doing to upgrade its water main infrastructure?

One of my priorities when I became Mayor was to quickly adopt a new contract with SUEZ (now Veolia) to provide much more substantial investments in proactive upgrades to our water main system, as compared to previous years. In 2019, we adopted a new contract with SUEZ that provides $33 million in infrastructure upgrades through 2034, and an average of $2.2 million in water investments per year – six times the amount as compared to the previous contract.

As a result, we’ve been able to replace over 1.8 miles of our oldest water mains since then, and we’re currently in the process of asking the City Council to adopt a new contract next month, that will allow us to begin the second phase of this project to replace another 5,000 linear feet of water mains, scheduled to take place this spring.

While we can’t prevent every break from happening, especially a break that was apparently caused by circumstances outside of our control, we are making substantial and unprecedented investments in our water main infrastructure.

I hope this update has provided additional clarity. We will continue to work closely with Veolia, whose teams are working diligently to isolate the water main and conduct repairs as expeditiously as possible.

Thank you,

Ravi S. Bhalla