Constructing levees and floodwalls, elevating buildings, and finally building a $2.8 billion water diversion tunnel.
Officials discussed these and other possible long-term solutions to flooding in the Passaic River Basin at a public meeting with residents at the Passaic County Public Safety Academy Thursday night.
The ideas are part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers re-evaluation of a study designed to determine what the possible solutions there are to alleviating flooding in the 1,000-square mile Basin. The last study was conducted in 1987.
The six possible solutions the ACE is examining are:
- Constructing a combination of levees, floodwalls, elevating homes, and either modifying local bridges and dams or channels to improve water flow.
These solutions would cost between $840 and $960 million and offer between 10 and 100 years of protection, according to the ACE.
- Modifying the Beatties Dam and improving local water channels upstream and downstream.
- Elevating homes throughout the Basin and preserving undeveloped land.
- Installing a tunnel that would channel floodwater from the Basin out to Newark Bay.
- The ACE might determine that none of these plans are satisfactory and work to determine other solutions.
Eugene Brickman, deputy chief of the ACE’s New York District’s Planning Division, said that state and municipal officials must come to a consensus as to the best course of action before the process continues.
“From the federal perspective, the state and local communities have to be in alignment in order for us to proceed,” Brickman said. “There has to be one non-federal voice moving forward.”
Attendees seemed to agree that buying out homes in the Basin, a strategy Wayne has embraced recently, is an acceptable short-term solution but not for the long-term.
The ACE determined that it would cost nearly $7.4 billion to buyout the more than 13,000 homes in the Basin. The projected cost of the proposed drainage tunnel is nearly $2.8 billion.
Melissa Florance-Lynch, the deputy mayor of Pequannock, and others stressed the need to perform regular maintenance, including dredging, on the six rivers in the Basin.
“These rivers have to be dredged,” Angela Jones said. “We need temporary help before any big plans are put into place. Let’s dredge the rivers until a permanent solution is put into place.”
“If we can’t maintain what we already have and we can’t remove trees that are already [in the rivers], it doesn’t give us a lot of confidence about a $2.8 billion tunnel.”