What is the 15 Point Flood Plan?

POMPTON LAKES, NJ - AUGUST 29:  Resident Chris...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeIn May of 2011, the Passaic River Basin Flood Advisory Commission provided the Christie administration with a 15 point plan for reducing flooding throughout the region.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and the 2 weeks of flooding that followed, it seems appropriate to re-examine that 15 point plan and consider its contents.

Main points include (in no particular order):

  • Buying up homes that exist in the areas with the worst flooding.  This is not a bad idea, in fact it's probably common sense, but it does leave the issue of reduced tax revenue for the municipalities effected and does not address where the funds for flood buyouts will come from.
  • Elevate homes in flood areas that are not bought out.  This is a great idea.  It's so great an idea, that it's already been done extensively in Louisiana (where I volunteered as a Red Cross Communications Director post Hurricane Katrina).  Basically, you take an existing home, lift it up and put a raised foundation underneath so that flood waters can pass through.  Again, as with literally any plan, funding is an issue, but at least this leaves taxes intact, not to mention people's homes.
  • Improving the flow of the Pompton Lakes floodgates.  To be completely clear, the 15 point study calls for another study to evaluate ways of operating the Pompton Lakes floodgates to reduce flooding.  Specifically, they'll ask the Army Corps of Engineers to get a consultant to study this.  That observation made, operating the Pompton Lakes floodgates prior to storms in a way that provides additional flood storage upstream would be a great idea.
  • Desnagging and deshoaling of the river.  Another great idea.  Pequannock and several others towns attempted to begin this work in July, but were unable to secure the permits necessary until mere weeks before Hurricane Irene due to delays on the state side.  The logic here is obvious: to prevent clogging of the river with debris.
  • Removal of feeder dams remaining from the Morris Canal.  This is not a great idea.  Those feeder dams back up water into an unpopulated region of Pequannock Township and in general slow the flow, something they've done for over 100 years.  In 1929, the engineer who oversaw the decommissioning of the Morris Canal (C.C. Vermuele) noted this is his report.  In short, they provide a great deal of flood storage and even with them there we still don't have enough.

For the full report, sans my commentary, read here: http://www.nj.gov/dep/passaicriver/docs/passaic-report201101.pdf

Christopher Lotito is a member of the Pequannock EnvironmentalHistoric District, and Flood Control Advisory Commissions as well as the author of  "Torrent," a book about flooding in the region.  Lotito's personal mission is to reduce new taxes, drastically reduce flooding, and preserve more green spaces for our children.  Christopher Lotito Profile

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