MILLBURN, NJ - The Millburn Environmental Commission voted to make a formal recommendation to the Township Committee to endorse “alternative number four” from the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) report on flood water mitigation, after an analysis of the various proposals put forth.

The complete report presented by the USACE on March 31 (available here) offered up ten possible solutions to the recurring flooding along the Rahway River Basin, with particular attention paid to the town of Cranford.  Each option was viewed in terms of its benefit-to-cost ratio (BCR) and Net Excess Benefit (NEB).  The report chose a top three recommendations based on this:

Alternative 4 - Channel work and new outlet at Orange Reservoir (BCR=1.33 with a cost of $68.9 million and NEB of $1.1 million).

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Alternative 6 - South Mountain Regional Detention Basin (BCR=1.06 with a cost of $108.5 million and NEB of $308,500).

Alternative 7a - Non-Structural - 10-year (BCR=1.48 with a cost of $15.5 million and NEB of $320,300).

The Millburn Environmental Commission chose Alternative 4 based on it having the second highest Benefit-to-Cost ratio and the highest Net Excess Benefit.  In addition, #4 also provides flood remedy for more of the basin area including Millburn, while the less expensive #7a only benefits Cranford.  Alternative 6 at the highest cost and lowest BCR and NEB is also controversial in that it proposes a dam in the South Mountain Reservation which will have major environmental consequences which have yet to be determined. An environmental study of each option is the next step in the process.

“It would be a waste of time and taxpayer money to study alternative number six, when it only gives one third of the benefit of the other option at a much higher cost,” said Jennifer Duckworth, the Commission Chair.

“You see how long it took them to do this study,” added commission member Sandra Haimoff.  The USACE has been looking at this for ten years.  “The Maplewood Township Committee and South Orange Board of Trustees have both voted to ask them to take the dam off the table.”  She did not specify whether they have recommended a specific alternative, however.  Reducing the number of options to study further would bring about a solution in a more timely manner.