Mayor's Council Rahway River Watershed Flood Control: Progress but Waiting After Irene
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 • 1:12pm
This week two years agoHurricane Irene hit the Rahway River Watershed with fury and caused over $100 million of damages to residencies, municipal facilities and businesses. The Mayors Council Rahway River Watershed Flood Control was formed and in 2012 began an effort working with the US Army Corps of Engineers and NJ Department of Environmental Protection to find solutions to the flooding issues in the watershed. A federal study that had languished for close to a decade was restarted and promising projects have now been reviewed. The US Army Corps of Engineers will complete the next stage of the evaluation by this September tenatively selecting the alternative for flood mitigation on the Rahway River. The Mayors may also put forward their own proposal for federal funding.
The US Army Corps evaluated the hydrological benefits of the seven alternatives and now are in the process of completing the cost benefit assessment on each. Federal law requires review of alternatives and the project with the strongest cost-benefits ratio (benefits have to outweigh costs more than one time) is the project selected.
The alternatives include:
*Alternative one- raising the Lenape Park dam and levees with channelization.
*Alternative two-raising Lenape Park dam and levees and less channelization
*Alternative three-excavation of Orange reservoir and gate opening (already rejected)
*Alternative four-Minor modification of Orange reservoir and channelization
*Alternative five-South Mountain Regional Dry Detention Basin and channelization
*Alternative six-South Mountain Regional Dry Detention Basin without channelization
*Storage solutions for the Robinson's Branch
Dan Aschenbach, Former Cranford Mayor coordinating the Mayors Council said "In the face of the destruction down the shore and the urgency of the US Army Corps turning its attention there, the movement now on the Rahway River flooding mitigation evaluation to this point is positive and reflects well on the US Army Corps efforts here. The Corps professionalism has been critical. But it still has to be stated flood mitigation is not in place which many residents worry about."
A new effort by the Mayors Council to urge federal representatives to ensure that the Rahway River mitigation work be given the US Army Corps highest priority has begun with expected congressional visits by the Mayors Council representatives.
The Mayors Council includes: Millburn Mayor Sandra Haimoff; Cranford Mayor Tom Hannen; Mayor Victor DeLuca; Orange Mayor Dwayne Warren, Springfield Mayor David Amblen; Rahway Mayor Proctor; Union Mayor Clifton People; Winfield Mayor Margaret McManus; Kenilworth Mayor Kathi Fiamingo and Garwood Mayor Patricia Quattrocchi.
The Mayors Council was successful at advocating to the State of New Jersey that it fund the environmental evaluation so that the selected alternative will be based on the best information available including evaluation of the water wells owned by the City of Orange; the impact of the South Mountain Regional detention basin on Essex County facilities ; and any impacts to Union County on Lenape Park.
Mayor Haimoff said "We have pointed out that the South Mountain Regional Detention Basin has significant hydrology benefits lowering river water elevations during peak storms significantly and the state and federal governments should support our efforts to accelerate the project. We remain concerned about the next major storm."