Two water main breaks just four miles apart in neighboring New Jersey cities within 24 hours have left streets flooded, and one city mayor believes the breaks may be connected.
Hoboken had a water main break on Madison Street and 11th Street Wednesday afternoon, coming a day after a water line was struck in Jersey City near Charlotte Circle. While the SUEZ water utility said the more recent break had nothing to do with the first, Hoboken mayor Ravinder Bhalla stated otherwise.
"Based on observations of previous water main breaks in neighboring Jersey City, our Office of Emergency Management believes that yesterday's Jersey City water main break likely was a contributing factor to today's break in Hoboken, which caused lower water pressure throughout the Hoboken system," Bhalla said.
In an email to city residents, Bhalla put the reason behind the water main breaks is the city's water system — which is more than 100 years old, he said. "The majority of the system is nearing the end of its useful life. As cast-iron pipes age, they become brittle and are more prone to break from changes in temperature, pressure fluctuations, or vibrations," the email read.
The pipe that broke Wednesday was a 16-inch pipe, as opposed to the 36-inch line struck Tuesday afternoon. In that situation, a state contractor was putting in sheet piling and pushed one directly into the main located near the intersection of Howell Street and Duffield Avenue, according to SUEZ.
Crews finished repairs to the Hoboken pipe early Thursday morning and water service was restored to residents, the utility company said, but the boil water advisory was still in effect for both Hoboken and Jersey City until 5 p.m. that day.
Many in the area went without water altogether Tuesday, and at least two nearby hospitals had water pressure issues.
SUEZ instructed residents to boil water for at least one minute for all purposes aside from bathing or washing dishes and clothes. Lower water pressure and discolored water were also possible as a result of the breaks.
The water utility also had water tankers come to provide water both days, and potable water was delivered to local hospitals. One tanker was delivered to Christ Hospital, where medical workers focused on treating coronavirus patients dealt with weakened water pressure.
Jersey City Medical Center was also said to be impacted by the water main break. Residents in the area were seen stocking up on bottled water in local stores.
The utility company says technicians will begin taking samples in both Jersey City and Hoboken to ensure drinking water safety. The results will be reported to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.