Another Water Main Break in Hoboken, Utility Warns Breaks Will Continue

A water main broke in Hoboken, New Jersey, early Monday, less than a week after another burst pipe left thousands of residents without water and heat for days, and the water company says the water main breaks will continue at an average of two a month until the city replaces the aging pipes.

This week's break was reported on Monroe Street at about 2 a.m., according to officials. About 100 water customers in the city were affected by the break in the 8-inch pipe, which officials say "is being isolated."

The break was expected to be repaired by Monday afternoon.

A water main break on Nov. 22 left thousands of water customers without water and heat for several days and affected customers in neighboring Jersey City.

Water service was restored before Thanksgiving, but customers had to boil water for several days. The break was only completely repaired Sunday.

Suez Water -- formerly United Water -- says the decades-old piece of equipment that failed last week should have been replaced years ago. Engineers from Suez explained Monday some of the issues they have to deal with: the city of Hoboken owns 41 miles of the water mains, some of them originals; two miles of them date to around 1870, and nearly half the city's water mains are more than 100 years old. 

Senior Operations Director Chris Riat told NBC 4 New York residents will have to continue to face water main breaks until the city invests more in updating the system. 

Suez says the city should be spending at least $1 million a year to put a dent in the aging pipes. Its list of 40 high-priority projects Hoboken needs total close to $15 million.

Suez warns that Hoboken isn't close to dealing with that. 

"Simply put, they do not have the money to invest to make a large enough dent," said Riat. 

The shortfall to make repairs in Hoboken goes back 20 years and several administrations, according to current Mayor Dawn Zimmer. 

When the city dealt with a similar string of water main breaks in the spring of 2013, Zimmer said at the time that a contract signed with United Water by city officials in the 1990s was "unbelievably shortsighted" and put off improvements in favor of planning budget gaps. 

An I-Team investigation found that the deal left Hoboken taxpayers responsible for the cost of virtually all infrastructure upgrades, even while United Water collected an estimated $100 million in revenue over 30 years. 

Zimmer said in a statement Monday, "I fully recognize that much more investment needs to occur every year to upgrade our water main system through a renegotiated agreement with Suez Water." 

"The latest series of water main breaks demonstrates the importance of investing in our infrastructure," she said. 

Frustrated Hoboken resident Jim Vance, one of the customers who lost water Monday, says it's critical that the city figures out how to update the infrastructure.  

"We have an antiquated water system just like we have an antiquated sewer system, and it's underground so nobody pays attention till it breaks," he said. "The city haas to invest more." 

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