A 72-inch water main line built in 1880 had a break, shooting water 8 feet in the air and flooding an area near Branch Brook Park. A video from the scene showed an overturned car nearly submerged next to the break.
The gushing water looked like a flowing river.
The city of Belleville said that the Newark Water Department was on site to repair the main. In a Facebook post, Belleville Mayor Michael Melham said this incident is not a typical water main break and that a timeline for repair was not available.
"While Newark works to fix the break, residents are advised, out of an abundance to caution, to boil tap water until further notice," Melham said. "I am also asking our Belleville OEM to make a request for bottled water which will be distributed if the problem cannot be addressed in a timely fashion."
The city of Newark warned residents that they might experience no water or low pressure but that normal pressure was returning. Newark also issued a boil advisory.
At a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, Newark Water and Sewer Director Kareem Adeem said the system was re-pressurizing over the course of several hours but the boil-water advisory would remain in place for now.
"We'll continue tightening up on the valves, the leakage that some of these large valves are leaking to isolate and tighten down a little more," Adeem said. "As that tightens down, the system will pressurize. Once it comes back, the entire system is pressurized."
The cause of the break was not known yet, Adeem said.
"The Department of Water and Sewer Utilities has been working diligently all day to get the break under control and restore full service," Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said. "Because of this hard work, some residents have seen their water service restored and we are continuing to work until full restoration."
University Hospital declared a water emergency and canceled elective procedures.
Newark also announced that summer school programs were canceled for Tuesday due to the water emergency.
Newark said anyone with a water emergency should call 973-733-3654.
Newark residents who urgently need bottled water can call 973-733-3274.
Newark residents who have general questions can call 973-733-4311.
Crews were expected to go door-to-door to give out water.
"Nutley residents are being asked to avoid all unnecessary water use for 24 hours," Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver tweeted. "The Boil Water Alert issued by Newark Water, Belleville & Bloomfield DOES NOT pertain to Nutley."
Newark Mayor Statement
A large water main break in Belleville this morning impacted water service in the North, West, and part of the South and Central Wards of Newark. Because of this, some of our residents and businesses have experienced no water or low pressure. A boiled-water advisory is in effect until further notice.
The Department of Water and Sewer Utilities has been working diligently all day to get the break under control and restore full service. Because of this hard work, some residents have seen their water service restored and we are continuing to work until full restoration.
We are going door-to-door to issue bottled water to residents in affected areas. Several businesses donated these bottles to the city, and we are thankful for their support. We are also grateful to our residents for their patience, especially those who have stepped in today to help neighbors with water delivery.
—Mayor Ras Baraka