Following the devastating flooding suffered by Hoboken from Tropical Storm Ida last week, Mayor Ravi Bhalla has announced that the city’s residents and businesses will be getting a 7-day rate credit:
Below is an update from Mayor Ravi. S Bhalla regarding SUEZ and the lifted boil water advisory:
The last week has been incredibly trying for all of us as we recover from the effects of Tropical Storm Ida and, most recently, the boil water advisory (“BWA”) that was issued by SUEZ at the direction of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP). I’ve heard frustration from many residents regarding the process, which I share, and I thank you all for your patience.
Yesterday, my staff and I met with representatives of SUEZ to air these frustrations and improve our protocols for the future.
My direct asks of SUEZ included: a detailed after-action report regarding the boil water advisory, a comprehensive communications plan to address future emergencies, and direct City representation in the internal meetings between the NJDEP and SUEZ that pertain to Hoboken.
During the boil water advisory, residents shared their concerns regarding the flow of information and the lack of an estimate for how long the boil water advisory would last. The NJDEP tightly regulates the information SUEZ and the City can communicate to the public during a boil water advisory, and does not allow for the release of an expected timeframe due to the impacts it could have on public health. While this remains the case, I do believe there was room for more frequent communication and greater detail about ongoing water quality testing by SUEZ, which would have not only helped alleviate anxieties but also manage expectations. By allowing the City to have a seat at the table during these internal discussions, I believe my administration will be able to communicate more efficiently and openly with the public by getting immediate clearance on communications from the NJDEP.
All of these asks were agreed to by SUEZ and they are working to provide my administration with these documents in short order.
I am pleased to report that due to the inconvenience and cost associated with the boil water advisory, the City will offer a seven-day credit to all water ratepayers. This credit will appear on an upcoming water bill, which are mailed out quarterly.
While the communication from SUEZ requires improvement, SUEZ worked around the clock to ensure water quality and protect the health of residents. SUEZ quickly repaired the aqueduct break in Cedar Grove that caused the boil water advisory and followed all regulations and protocols set by the NJDEP. They dispatched teams to sample water in Jersey City and Hoboken numerous times and submitted these samples to rigorous testing to ensure that our tap water was once again safe to drink before the advisory was lifted by the NJDEP.
Although I have had concerns about the communications process, it does not negate my thanks to the hardworking employees of SUEZ and the NJDEP, as well as the City of Union City, City of Hoboken, Hudson County, and our local Office of Emergency Management and Community Emergency Response Team for working diligently to ensure the City’s water quality was up to par, and for assisting with water distribution during the advisory. I appreciate that there were many individuals working throughout the holiday weekend to assist our residents.
The City will continue to work alongside SUEZ to improve communications on an ongoing basis. I am optimistic that together, we will be able to better manage expectations and assuage public concerns during future emergencies.
Ravi S. Bhalla