(ABOVE: A catastrophic SUEZ water main break in November of 2015 shut down Hoboken’s water for days.)
Hoboken’s City Council approved a new contract between the City and service provider SUEZ Water—putting a cap on a costly and contentious debate, as debilitating water main breaks throughout the Mile Square City become all too routine.
The City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to enter into a water service contract with SUEZ that includes $33 million in water infrastructure upgrades over 15 years. A new public water utility managed by the City was also approved by the Council. The new public water utility and contract will go into effect on July 1.
“I want to express my thanks to the City Council for unanimous approval of our new water contract and public water utility. Hoboken will finally be able to make critical upgrades to our water infrastructure with multi-million dollar investments that have been lacking for decades,” said Hoboken Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla. While we won’t be able to solve all water main breaks overnight, this puts us well on our way to significantly upgrading our water system with six times more investments than currently required. Thank you again to City Directors Jen Gonzalez and Stephen Marks for leading the negotiations with SUEZ, to SUEZ for coming to the negotiating table, as well as the Council sub-committee on infrastructure.”
“Our new contract and improved partnership with SUEZ allows Hoboken to reclaim most of our water revenues and self-fund all necessary improvements to our aging water system,” said Hoboken Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, as the proposed contract was announced weeks ago.
Looming legal battles between the two entities have long left the future of Hoboken’s infrastructure—which includes pipes from the 1890’s—hanging perilously in the balance. The City says the new agreement was based largely upon the framework of the initial SUEZ negotiations led by former Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer and her administration in 2017.
On the consumer end, there will be no change for the process of a bill payment for the Hoboken ratepayer, as the bill will continued to be collected by SUEZ.
As of July 1, those funds would be directed into the public water utility that will now be operated by the City of Hoboken. According to a statement by the City, “the majority of funds will be invested by the City into proactive upgrades.”