Irene, One Year On: Central Basin Releases Statement
Received from Charlie Bush representing the Central Basin Regional Flood Board at 9:15pm, Wednesday August 22nd, 2012:
WHERE WE ARE TODAY - A YEAR AFTER IRENE
As a year has passed since the devastation of Hurricane Irene, the communities along the Passaic and Pompton River basins continue to recover from this disaster. Recurring flood events that plaque this area remains a major issue; flood prevention strategies and projects must remain a top priority not only locally, but also at the state and federal level.
The Central Basin Regional Flood Board, comprised of Fairfield, Lincoln Park, Little Falls, Pequannock, Pompton Lakes and Wayne (municipalities along the Passaic and Pompton River basins), has established a charter to combine their efforts and address the recurring flood events. The Board’s methodology is to broaden the impact of real, incremental flood prevention activities which must be pursued and implemented to minimize the devastating impact caused by repetitive flooding.
As part of this effort, the Central Basin Regional Flood Board is calling for a collaborative effort between Governor Christie, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the US Army Corps of Engineers and our Congressional representatives to begin formally working together on the prevention elements of Governor Christie’s 15-point plan for the Central Basin.
A critical point of the overall plan is to improve water flow into and out of the Passaic River Basin. Local municipal efforts to maintain the river areas in the Passaic and Pompton River basins have been ongoing for years. These communities work diligently to implement projects to help improve water flow – but the problem is bigger than any one community, or even a combined effort of several communities. The local community effort must be expanded with efforts from the state and federal government if there is to be any real impact on the repetitive flooding that devastates our communities. Federal and State agencies must take ownership of this effort. These communities cannot solve this problem without help from the state and federal governments. Immediate action is needed to remove flow impediments in the key areas of the river basin that block or slow water flow (Point #5, 6 and 8 of theGovernor’s 15-point plan), and also assess the function and use of the current dams for flow management.
The Central Basin Regional Flood Board is focused on implementation of the Governor’s established plan, along with reviewing other opportunities that should be investigated to improve the storm water management in the State of New Jersey, specifically:
• Flood Storage Area Preservation (Point #3)
o Update current, and reactivate dormant storage areas.
o Create new flood storage areas using open space or similar options based upon our engineers’ recommendations in identified areas to retain and regulate water flow downstream.
• Upper Region River Flow Models
o Perform a thorough river flow model review of the upstream region of the Passaic River basin to identify the potential water flow opportunities for reservoirs and flow delay tools.
• Reservoir management
o Enactment of the introduced legislative bills to utilize the existing reservoir system to assist in flood water management.
The Central Regional Flood Board is demanding that adequate funding,as outlined and specified in the Governor’s plan, is immediately released. The Board is also requesting that a formalized action plan be established between the Flood Board and the federal and state governments to identify immediate flood prevention plans that can be implemented utilizing both private and government entities. The level of action needed is Presidential, as it was in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The residents and businesses of New Jersey deserve nothing less.
Christopher Lotito is a member of the Pequannock Historic 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