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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 . 

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.

Christopher Lotito

Pequannock, NJ

Sandy Fantau April 18, 2012 at 01:37 PM
I also wonder where we go from here. It is my understanding that the Mayor of Pompton Lakes would like to conduct their own study. Maybe all towns should pool their limited resources and do this together. It may end up being cheaper than the repeated cost to towns for the flood cleanups.
Diane Hummel April 18, 2012 at 05:58 PM
I agree Sandy, but I am so done with studies! Isn't it time the powers that be for our respective towns actually DO something, Instead of just meeting about it?
George April 18, 2012 at 06:50 PM
@ Sandy, the desnagging was suppose to be a joint project amongst the 4 town from grant money from the Fed or the Sate (not sure) and Wayne chose to split off and do their own thing there. Doubtful that you could get the towns to wisely pool their resources to maximize efficiens and synergies.
Joe videodummy April 19, 2012 at 04:16 AM
Since a "mock up model " has already been made, why can't we go back to AECOM and ask them to complete what has already been started, and lay out the details needed to prevent this type of flooding from re occurring again. Let them describe what has to be removed, dug, realigned and installed. If the state is convinced that AECOM filed the first report correctly, they should have no problem with learning the complete solution to the problem, and should be just as eager to fix it. AECOM already has all of the calculations necessary to give precise details on disbursement and drainage by simply putting the model in motion, and then adding the additional parts as needed.
Scondo April 20, 2012 at 11:29 AM
In a deft political move, both mayor vergano and assemblyman Rumania have called for another study.
Wayne Boy May 09, 2012 at 11:31 PM
If you walk up and down the river,you will see dams made a long time ago for the canal.if you take 3 feet off the top of some including the one at the pompton falls and knock down some other ones, and take some off the one in little falls and the great falls and all the rest down stream it will help with flooding,LET THE WATER RUN FREE. I understand some fish will die,But for gods sake they are just fish,i am so tired of the floods i am ready to pack up and just move out of state

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