Tuesday, December 1, 2009

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers May Reopen Flood Study for Passaic River

A news article appeared in today's edition of The Record, the newspaper for northern New Jersey, titled "Corps may revisit flooding study."

I was interviewed by the reporter, Andrea Alexander, and cited by her in the article.

Some paragraphs from the article follow:

"Since 1936, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has wrestled with how to reduce flooding in the 983-square-mile Passaic River Basin — one of the most densely developed flood plains along the Eastern Seaboard. However, no comprehensive plan has ever come to fruition since a proposal was shelved in the mid-1990s for a $1.8 billion, 21-mile tunnel to divert floodwaters to Newark Bay."

"But the corps might be getting ready to tackle the question again in response to urging by members of a task force spearheaded by state Assemblyman Scott Rumana, R-Wayne, and a request from the state Department of Environmental Protection."

"Any project or series of projects that gets recommended would have to compensate for the natural characteristics of the Passaic River system. Damage from floods in the Passaic basin has been staggering over the years. The latest, in April 2007, was the worst in decades: 5,000 people evacuated and $686 million in damage."

"The basin is unique because two major rivers, the Pompton and Passaic, converge in a low-lying area that naturally does not have sufficient drainage, explained Qizhong Guo, a water resources engineer at Rutgers University."

"He compared the river system to a bathroom drain that is not large enough, so when there is too much water, it overflows. And, adding to the problem are the nearly 550 homes built in the floodwaters' immediate path. According to the DEP, there are 20,000 homes, businesses, and public buildings in areas that are susceptible to flooding in the Passaic River Basin."

"Development that takes away land that can absorb floodwaters makes the problem worse, but Guo said it's not the major factor. Historical data back him up: The worst flood to hit the area in 100 years occurred in 1903, when North Jersey was a lot less developed. The Passaic River crested at 17.5 feet, about 5.5 feet higher than during the 2007 flood."

"Any flood mitigation project would not be able to stop the type of flood seen once in a 100 years, but Rumana said something is needed that would 'take the teeth out the tiger and minimize that severe impact.' "

The article source: The Record www.northjersey.com

The map source: upload.wikimedia.org