A water main on Upper Mountain Avenue occurred early Saturday, Dec. 17, the Montclair Water Bureau announced. The break comes just two days after a pipe burst at Bloomfield and Midland avenues. 

The incident on Saturday occurred at 4:45 a.m. when a major water main burst on Upper Mountain Avenue, between Berkeley Place and Watchung Avenue. The area is closed off for ongoing repairs.

A boil water advisory has been issued for residents in the area and it is expected to last until at least Tuesday. Notices were hand delivered to affected homes, on Upper Mountain Avenue between Watchung Avenue and 184 Upper Mountain. Also included are 1 and 10 Watchung Ave. and 238 and 250 North Mountain Ave.

The Montclair Fire Department delivered bottled water to the affected area, said Colleen Kelly, who lives near the site of the break. She noted that water service has been restored but that the water is dark brown.

The water main break on Upper Mountain Avenue caused tap water in the area to turn brown. The township has issued a boil water alert. (COURTESY OF COLLEEN KELLY)
The water main break on Upper Mountain Avenue caused tap water in the area to turn brown. The township has issued a boil water alert. (COURTESY OF COLLEEN KELLY)

Montclair has seen four water main breaks since early September. 

On Dec. 15 at 7:45 A.M., a severe water main break occurred at the intersection of Bloomfield Avenue and Midland Avenue. Due to the high volume of water and the number of utilities in the ground, the Water Bureau had to perform a complete shutdown and issue a boil water advisory for residents within the affected area of Bloomfield Avenue between Valley Road and South Park Street, including all of Maple Plaza.

Although the Water Bureau announced later that night, around 9 p.m., that repairs had been made and that water service had been restored, it is unclear whether the boil water advisory remains in effect for those residents. 

Saturday’s water main break is the third break in Montclair this month, and the third to happen on Upper Mountain Avenue since September. Just ten days ago, on Dec. 7, another break impacted Upper Mountain Avenue residents, this time, at the intersection of Upper Mountain Avenue and Laurel Place.

On Sept. 14, a 20-foot section of a 12-inch pipe burst on Upper Mountain Avenue, sending a heavy flood of water down a hillside. This break badly damaged at least one driveway and left 10 homes without water for about five hours. 

Later that month, on Sept. 28,  Montclair residents were also impacted by a pipe burst in Nutley, which resulted in a declaration of a state of emergency. Montclair residents were told to use strict water conservation methods until the first couple of weeks of October.

"Seems a bit out of the ordinary that so many have happened in such a short time," said 4th Ward Councilor Robin Schlager after driving by the scene Saturday afternoon. "I've been here for 30 years and don't remember anything like this."

Mayor Sean Spiller and Acting Township Manager Brian Scantlebury did not immediately respond to email messages.

In September, The Montclair Local asked Township Manager Timothy Stafford, who is currently on administrative leave, about the township's recurring water main break issue. Stafford said that on average Montclair experiences six to 10 water main breaks a year, and that the water and utilities department is “continuously engaged in a water main replacement program, replacing approximately one mile of pipe annually.”