At the Mayors Council Rahway River Watershed Flood Control meeting in Millburn Township Municipal Building last Thursday, the Mayors urged the Governor and State Legislature to fund the construction of the modification to the Orange Reservoir outlet in 2016.  
The project, which is part of an overall US Army Corps of Engineers project for Rahway River flood mitigation, got a big boost from the results of a US Army Corps study that indicated the reservoir had 40% more capacity than originally assumed.  The project would modify the outlet so the reservoir could be safely drained prior to peak storm conditions so downstream water elevations could be lowered.  For example, the estimate downstream in Millburn is that water elevations would be almost three feet lower during peak storm conditions.  Further downstream elevations would also be lower.  
Millburn Mayor  Robert Tillotson said" We now know the Orange reservoir modification is technically feasible and we should proceed to implement the project for the flood relief benefits".  Former Mayor Tom Hannen said " We are urging the state to accelerate funding on this important aspect of the Rahway River Flood Mitigation Study because there is no reason to wait. Upstream storage while not impacting the reservoir is a win win plan".   Springfield Mayor David Barnett said the Mayors Council working with the US Army Corps of Engineers and NJ DEP have come a long way to flood control projects that can make a meaningful difference." Union Mayor Manuel Figueiredo said why wait to start the reservoir modification since it has to be done anyway first?"
Mayors representing communities along the Rahway River urged in the letter sent to Governor Chris Christie that will also be sent to  members of the New Jersey State Legislature, to begin funding  in FY 2016 the construction of this part of the overall project since it will provide benefits downstream and has to be completed before other flood mitigation measures are done.   
Over $100 million of damages was faced by residents along the Rahway River during Irene and no improvement in the situation has yet been done. The Rahway River Flood Mitigation Plan has significant flood mitigation benefits including  modification to the Orange reservoir to store more water during peak storm conditions; there is proposed channelization improvements from Lenape Park through Cranford; and investigations are ongoing for improved storage in the Robinson Branch part of the Rahway River in the City of Rahway. The current federal process includes a selected final plan in 2016 with recommendation to Congress for construction funding in 2017.  
The Mayors believe that major aspects of the federal/state study have reached conclusion that could be implemented by the State of New Jersey in advance of the final study's conclusion.  A memo of understanding would be required with the US Army Corps of Engineers for the state to accelerate the funding to implement the Orange reservoir modification.   For example, the Orange Reservoir modification which would permit more storage during storm events could be an immediate benefit to communities from Millburn to Rahway.  The estimated capital cost is now significantly  below earlier estimates and the region has embraced this solution as a positive help to those downstream. The project would have to be completed first anyway since upstream storage is required before any downstream channel work can get done.  
Congressman Payne, Congressman Lance, Senator Corey Booker and Senator Robert Menendez gave assurance that federal funding of the  full mitigation study is one of their highest priorities. 
The Mayors Council Rahway River Watershed Flood Control include: Union Mayor M Figueiredo; Millburn Mayor Robert  Tillotson; Cranford Mayor Andis Kalnins; Rahway Mayor Sam Steinman; Springfield Mayor David Barnett; Maplewood Mayor Victor Deluca; and Kenilworth Mayor Fred Pugliese. 
In picture of a recent Mayors Council planning meeting right to left: Springfield Mayor David Barnet; Union Mayor Manuel Figueiredo; Millburn Mayor Robert Tillotson;  Winning Strategies Rob Zucker ; Springfield Deputy Mayor Margaret Banrowski; and  Cranford Township Engineering Commissioner Robert D'Ambola representing Cranford Mayor Andis Kalnins.
For further information contact Dan Aschenbach, Mayors Council, 908-468-8806 or daschenbach@verizon,net