Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fix Find for Flooding Fiasco Funded: Obama Offers One-Million for Passaic Study

The Great Falls after inches (0 mm) of rain dr...Image via WikipediaFor many in New Jersey, flooding has ceased to be an event and become a lifestyle.  An entire generation of children through the Passaic Valley will have as some of their earliest memories a Fall of daily community dinners at the local church or a lining up for the Red Cross food truck.  It seems strange to many of those effected by the floods when someone we encounter fails to realize just how many voters flood mitigation legislation would directly help.  Certainly many were disappointed when Governor Christie failed to include flooding as an issue in his State of the State Address, then still more were disheartened days later when President Obama failed to mention flooding in his State of the Union Address.

So it was with great excitement and some trepidation that North Jersey greeted the news of Obama's proposed 2013 budget on February 13th, a budget which allocated $1,000,000.00 for the study of a long-term solution to flooding in the Passaic River Basin.  Certainly this was what many had hoped for, a million dollars was, if nothing else, an acknowledgement that there exists a flooding problem worth addressing in the region.

The news is good, though mixed.  A million dollars does not go far towards engineering studies for flood control which are expected to approach $15 million in cost.  Similar studies can be expected to take anywhere from 6 to 18 months, so even if the study were fully flooded, breaking ground on a solution would still be two years or more out.  On the other hand, a million dollars is a promise: the federal government has a million dollar vested interest in alleviating flooding.  Further, a million dollars is a test: find the other $14 million, complete the study, and work together as a region to complete this small project, and the federal government may be willing to entrust more funds towards a solution in the future.

In another show of commitment, the Army Corps of Engineers also allocated $250,000 from their own budget to the completion of this project.

A million dollars in funding for a flood fix is not a start.  New Jersey residents had their start, in the dark, bailing out their homes in August of 2011, in 1999, in 1984, back over a hundred years with over a hundred starts.  Neither is a million dollars an end.  A million dollars is possibly sufficient to cover paper and office supplies for whatever flood fix is decided upon, not much more than that.  No, a million dollars in Obama's 2013 budget is a lot more like the middle.  A million dollars is halftime, is the turning of the tide, that moment when the battle started to go the other way.  It's a hard fight ahead, but a million dollars is a lot more than nothing and a lot more funding than a flood fix for Passaic valley has seen in a long time.


Christopher Lotito is a member of the Pequannock EnvironmentalHistoric District, Open Space, 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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