Plan Proposed for Permanent Flooding Fix
Buyouts, dredging, and changing the way local floodgates are operated are all part comprehensive plan.
Buying out homes, improving the operation of the floodgates and dredging local rivers are all viable steps that can be taken as part of permanent solution to alleviating flooding in the Passaic River Flood Basin, the head of an environmental group said Tuesday.
“The first thing we need to do is vacate the flood plain and that’s being done, which is a good first step,” Ella Filippone, executive director of the Passaic River Coalition, told a gathering sponsored by the Wayne League of Women Voters. “Then the basin can flood and no one will care because no one will be in harm’s way.”
Wayne has already received $6.3 million of dollars to purchase homes in the worst flooded areas of the township, including Riverside Drive, Riverlawn Drive, and Fayette Avenue. Dozens of homes in the Hoffman Grove section of town are also being bought out under a separate buyout program.
“Once you vacate the flood plain, you can reassess what has to happen regarding other aspects of the problem,” Filippone said. Her group is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the local watershed and alleviating flooding in the basin.
Residents say that the operation of the floodgates on the Pompton River dam is causing more severe flooding to occur downstream from the dam. Township engineer John Szabo has said that the gates do not contribute to downstream flooding.
The gates are programmed to rise when the water behind the dam reaches a certain point. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers oversees their operation. The gates were opened in late August before Hurricane Irene swept through North Jersey. Several feet of water was drained down stream as a result, but the area was still hit with record flooding.
“There has to be a more systemized way of dealing with how the gates are operated,” Filippone said.
Filippone said that people, not computers, need to decide when the gates are raised.
Rivers within the floodplain, including the Pompton and Wanaque Rivers, need to be dredged immediately.
“Those rivers need to be brought back to their original condition before all this development took place,” Filippone said. “The water has to be able to drain quickly from the area.”
The remediation and buyout processes will be slow, Filippone said.
“There’s isn’t a quick fix to the problem. It is gong to take time,” Filippone said. “But there has to be a better formula when dealing with the management of water in the floodplain.”