To The Editor: Gates Report Slams The Door In Our Faces
Local flood victim asks: Where do we go from here?
If you haven’t heard by now, a study performed by AECOM and released by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) last week states that the Pompton Lakes floodgates do not impact flooding downstream.
This position, fervently held by the State of NJ and Army Corps of Engineers since 2007, is enumerated in 157 pages of exquisite detail, citing years of storm and flood data.
So the question remains, where do we go from here? Back to our flooding homes and neighborhoods, secure in the knowledge that the best the State will say is that our property is being destroyed by an “extremely wet decade?” Should we place our faith in the 15 Point Flood Plan, which exhorts us to eliminate entire streets and subdivisions of thriving, tax paying neighborhoods?
The first thing to know is that there are challenges to AECOM’s report, for those who wish to address them. The report on the Pompton Lakes floodgates can be addressed, not on the basis of its research, because its research is sound, but on the basis of its findings.
Any group of individuals who are not happy with the report’s findings would need to secure their own experts to counter the report; we will not be receiving any more assistance from the government in this. Such an expert might question why the report states that the observed increase in water pressure is acceptable or how it can be that the findings do not address actual waves coming down from the dam observed in person by some of our local officials.
Anyone who does wish to challenge this report should secure their own experts, as well as the software and data used by the State in their study, as that is what it’s going to take.
In the meantime, we are left with massive flooding and we need to start building solutions that work. Not next year, not in 2016, but this very hour.
Locally, we need to focus on what’s best for our communities and what we can change by ourselves. One of those solutions could well be local flood storage. A spherical depression just 24 feet across will accommodate over 27,000 gallons of flood storage. This could be increased with the use of berms and guardbanks, even in places where the water table is high. In some places we might dig down, in others build up, and between flood seasons we will be left with practice ballfields, community lakes, and verdant marshlands for hiking and fishing.
The release of AECOM’s report on the Pompton Lakes floodgates yesterday was a bad day for thousands of families in our region, but it is not the end of the story. Neither is the 15 Point Plan, or buyouts, or elevations. Nor are levee systems that won’t be completed until the next decade or changes in laws which may simply preclude building in the floodplain, tax base be damned.
AECOM’s report closed a door in our faces yesterday, that’s true, and there are a certain number of people who are going to question that, which is important. Everyone needs to know though that in the face of this closed door, walled in by bureaucracy and the dreaded phrase “long term,” there are so many windows that we can pursue as communities. I’m planning to open a few myself in Pequannock and I hope that you’ll join me in doing the same elsewhere.