Major water main break leaves thousands in Newark without water; boil water advisory in effect

A major water main break left a large portion of Newark without water Tuesday morning.

News 12 Staff

Aug 9, 2022, 12:40 PM

Updated 672 days ago


A major water main break left a large portion of Newark without water Tuesday morning.
A 42-inch water main broke around 6 a.m. in Belleville. That water line supplies a large portion of Newark with water service.
The line dates back to the 1880s and left around 100,000 Newark residents with low or no water.
The system is now repressurized, but a boil water advisory will remain in place for Newark and Belleville for the next 24 hours.
Newark leaders say that the system will work its way back up to full pressure through the rest of the evening. There are still some questions as to how and why the system failed and what it means when it comes to the state’s water infrastructure.
“This is like a 10-year break. Every 10 years, we have a type of break like this when a large pipe this size would break,” says Kareem Adeem, director of Newark Water and Sewer Utility.
The break happened as New Jersey deals with its eighth day of temperatures above 90 degrees. The break forced area hospitals to cancel some procedures.
“Our first thing is to restore water to the community. After we restore water to the community, we'll start looking at repairing this pipe,” Adeem says.
Crews worked throughout the morning to isolate the broken water main from the rest of the system. As reports of plunging water pressure came in, a woman in a car accidentally stumbled on the site of the break inside Branch Brook Park.
“The street started collapsing, she couldn't move. She got out of the car safely, later on as water started eroding the street, the car fell in,” Adeem says.
Some of New Jersey’s leaders say that the state needs more funds to help improve infrastructure.
“Do I have to say again we need $30 billion of water infrastructure in this country?” says New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn LaTourette.
The cause of the water main break is unclear, but it is likely due to the age of the cast iron pipe.
“We tend to take water for granted. We tend to take for granted the fact that it will get to us and get away from us in all the ways we need it,” LaTourette says.
But Adeem says that Newark is strong and that the city will get through this.
“This is a massive operation, but it's not something we're not used to. We're the Water and Sewer Utility: pressure plus pipes - we fix it,” says Adeem. “We have great residents. We understand when we have a problem, we come together to get them fixed. We want to thank them for that, for their patience.”
Adeem says that there is water in the system that could be used in the event of a major fire and that neighboring towns are on notice to send their fire departments to the city for mutual aid.

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