Water, water, everywhere!
First Sandy, then a sinkhole, then a water main break
by Amanda Palasciano
Reporter staff writer
Mar 31, 2013 | 5179 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SINKING FEELING – United Water employees at 14th Street and Willow Avenue work to stem the flow of a water line break on Friday morning, the third disruption of water service in Hoboken last week.
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Has Hoboken seen enough water in the past five months? First it came from the sea pushed by Hurricane Sandy and all but drowned the city, and last week it came spouting from broken water mains below the streets.

At press time, United Water Company’s recommendation that residents boil tap water remained in effect until the company decides the water flowing from the pipes is clear enough to be safe for drinking. By law, a boil water advisory must be issued if the water pressure drops below a certain level. For updates on the situation, go to their website, www.unitedwater.com.

Mayor Dawn Zimmer is scheduled to meet with United Water on Monday, April 1. Zimmer was observing the Jewish holiday last week and was unavailable for comment.

Two water main breaks last week, one at Eighth Street and Willow Avenue and the other at 14th and Willow, caused faucets to run temporarily dry.

Contrary to some reports, a third interruption of service on Friday morning that brought a United Water crew to the foot of the 14th Street Viaduct was not another water main break, but a break in a line feeding a single building.
Mayor Dawn Zimmer is planning to meet with United Water on Monday, April 1.
The break on Thursday near the uptown Rite Aid store was caused when a construction worker at a site near 14th and Willow struck a 30 inch main. Though it has since been repaired, according to Melli, a team has been sent out to take water samples to determine if the water is safe to drink.

“They repaired the 30 inch main and it is back in service,” Melli said Friday. “A team is immediately being sent in to start taking water samples.”

United Water was closed for the holiday and could not be reached for comment.

Where’s my car?

While parking can be tough in Hoboken, it can be tougher when your car is swallowed by the Earth.

The water main break at Eighth and Willow occurred in the early hours of Thursday morning. A sinkhole opened around 3 a.m. and swallowed a small car. Cars on either side were towed, and the gushing hole spat muddy water onto Willow Avenue and up Eighth Street, flooding basements of nearby homes.

Police, United Water personnel, and emergency officials were on the scene. No injuries were reported.

Sandy related?

Even before water became the bane of Hoboken’s existence for the last five months, the city has a long history of flooding, usually when high tides and heavy rains cause the city’s combined sewer system to back up through the street catch basins in the south and west sections of town.

Various solutions have been proposed and a new pumping system was built near the NJ Transit terminal downtown. But the sewerage infrastructure is over a century old and much of the city lies below the high tide level of the Hudson River, so the combination of gravity and storm conditions has so far proved hard to manage.

Water main breaks have also been a regular occurrence in recent years. Whether the effect of Hurricane Sandy stressing the aging system has been a factor remains for the experts to determine.

Amanda Palasciano may be reached at amandap@hudsonreporter.com.

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