After 18 water main breaks over the past 70 days, the Hoboken City Council voted unanimously to approve a competitive bidding process that would potentially replace Suez as their water service provider.
Mayor Ravi Bhalla appeared before the council yesterday evening to say that he was thankful for the leadership fellow elected officials displayed during the most recent water main breaks.
“Each council member on this dais exercised sound judgement to place politics on the sidelines to come together and work towards long term solutions to this challenge,” Bhalla began.
“It’s highly refreshing that despite our differences … when it comes to issues such as this there are members of this council, most members of this council who had the presence of mind and good conscience to come together for [the sake] of our community. Thank you for putting Hoboken first,” said Bhalla.
Bhalla thanked individual council members by name, though left off the list was 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco, a staunch political adversary.
This fact wasn’t lost on DeFusco, who while thanking the mayor for speaking before the council, criticized him for not addressing water main breaks when he sat upon the dais as a councilman for nearly a decade.
“I’m thankful to the Mayor for coming here and speaking with us because, despite serving on the council with him for two years and him being in elected office for nine years, I was surprised to hear him say that this was an emergency because this has been going on for decades,” DeFusco said.
“But nonetheless I am very thankful that the Mayor was gracious enough to come to talk to the council publicly.”
He stressed that now is not the time for the council and the mayor to be pointing fingers about whose to blame for the numerous water main breaks, but instead to work collaboratively to find a “holistic solution” to replace Hoboken’s water infrastructure that is over 100 years old.
But he cautioned that should there be another water main break, the administration should refrain from pushing the “panic button.”
The resolution to put the services out to bid passed unanimously (9-0).
At a press conference last week, Bhalla and other elected officials said they were fed up with Suez, making good on their word to put water services back out to bid and taking the company to court.
In a statement, Suez said that “it is committed to continuing its valued partnership with the city of Hoboken, to making badly needed and necessary investments in the city’s infrastructure and to offering residents an excellent level of service. We look forward to continuing that process over the coming weeks.”