Repairs to Hoboken Water System Might Not Be Complete Until After Thanksgiving: Utility

It could be after Thanksgiving before water service is fully restored in Hoboken and Jersey City, potentially affecting plans for anyone planning to host during the holiday, officials say.

SUEZ Water North Jersey said that while it was working to repair a transmission line that broke in Hoboken Sunday, causing widespread water pressure loss throughout the city, a 36-inch valve failed. The utility said that the additional damage will take several days to repair. 

Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer said in a news conference Monday afternoon crews have not been able to access the valve because it was still bubbling up.

"This may go through Thanksgiving. It may be after Thanksgiving that we are dealing with this," she said. 

Zimmer has not ruled out declaring a state of emergency if the situation worsens, which would force businesses to conserve water. Already, officials are asking residents to conserve on a volunteer basis, including "changing your schedule, taking shorter showers, reducing the times when you flush," said Zimmer. 

Repairs will continue throughout the week, and the utility said that it will give an update on the time line on Tuesday. Water pressure has been restored to many parts of the city.

SUEZ Water North Jersey says residents should boil any water that will be consumed for at least a minute. Water doesn't have to be boiled for showering or washing dishes or clothes.

Residents in high-rise buildings who have been experiencing low water pressure may continue to get low pressure during Thanksgiving, Zimmer said. 

"I wish I was bearing better news," she said.

The low water pressure on the south end of Hoboken is also causing issues with the heating systems on the upper floors of some high-rises. Numerous water tankers have been deployed so residents can get clean drinking water.

Road closures in southwest Hoboken will remain in effect until at least Monday afternoon.

The utility said in a statement earlier, "Repairing the valve is a complex procedure, due to its size and location underground, and could take several days. As a result, the city of Hoboken will have lower water pressure than usual, and residents, especially those on higher floors, should expect to have lower water pressure, discolored water, or at times no water while repairs are ongoing and as water demand changes throughout the day."

The aging infrastructure in Hoboken has been problematic for city residents, who have had to deal with multiple water main breaks in recent years. And after Sandy and Irene, flooding has become all too familiar in the low-lying southwest corner of the city along Observer Highway.

"It's the lowest point of Hoboken, it's just too many people living in a mile-square town," said resident Joann Simkins. 

One business estimated it has already lost thousands of dollars because of the water main break. 

"We have a river in front of our restaurant, so that scares people away," said Abigail Blackwell, manager of Jack's Cabin, where a normally bustling lunch hour was replaced with a scene of empty tables.

"With football, we lost a lot of business yesterday for brunch and that was devastating, and we tried to open for dinner but it was really slow for dinner as well," said Blackwell. 

Gonca Esendemir, owner of Flatbread Grill, said the Washington Street restaurant could see 5,000 to 6,000 people a day pass by outside. 

But Monday, "it was so quiet. People are scared to come in," said Esendemir. 

Meanwhile, residents in neighboring Jersey City are also trying to deal with the lack of heat and hot water.

"I'm going to go to my friend's and take a shower in Manahttan," said Tony Juliano. 

Gary Netherton, who lives in a high-rise in Jersey City, said residents there haven't gotten information quickly enough.

"If we'd all known yesterday that it was a good chance it would be out beyond Thanksgiving, we'd probably all either made plans to be with friends farther away or in a hotel," he said Monday. 

A spokesperson for the mayor of Jersey City said the office has been proactive in getting information out since the break Sunday. 

Contact Us