Hoboken considers lawsuit after multiple water main breaks

Hoboken officials say that they are considering a lawsuit against SUEZ Water after more than two dozen recent water main breaks in the city.
Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla says that he is also considering using a different water utility company for the city.
“In our view there can only be one explanation: SUEZ has mismanaged our system,” Bhalla says.
Bhalla says that SUEZ’s meter project in the city’s southwest district may have led to the 14 water main breaks this summer. But SUEZ officials are blaming old infrastructure in Hoboken.
“A system that is more than 100 years old. It’s very difficult to operate a system of that age,” says Rich Henning, SUEZ senior vice president of communications.
Mayor Bhalla says that he took three major steps Tuesday to help alleviate the burden on Hoboken residents: Declare an emergency to make it easier for the city to launch an investigation into the breaks; file a lawsuit against SUEZ if their findings show the meter project is a contributing factor; and begin the process to replace SUEZ starting at the next council meeting.
“SUEZ’s record speaks for itself. And we can no longer work under an agreement that's not Hoboken first. The process to begin replacing SUEZ with a new water system operator will be initiated,” Bhalla says.
The utility company says that the summer water main breaks fall within the average number of breaks dating back to 2002. Henning says that any lawsuit would be a waste of money.
Hoboken officials recently invested more than $7 million in the last two years replacing water mains on Washington Street and approved another $10 million in bonds for an additional 2.5 miles of water main replacement.