SPRINGFIELD, NJ - The Mayors Council Rahway River Watershed Flood Control has begun to step up its advocacy to get federal and state support to get the Rahway River flood mitigation plan into construction in 2018. The Mayors Council meets October 18 at the Springfield Township Firehouse at 7PM to get updates from the State DEP and Winning Strategies on the status of the project technical review and funding. Plans for urging citizen advocacy will be an important aspect of next steps.
Recently Millburn Mayor Cheryl Burstein wrote the Chief of the US Army Corps of Engineers Lieutenant General Todd T. Semonite, "I want to thank you on behalf of the citizens of my community for the efforts made to date on the Rahway River Flood Mitigation Plan. Since Irene, Millburn has worked with the Mayors of several communities downstream, along with the NJ DEP and the New York District of the US Army Corps of Engineers, to arrive at an optimal solution to mitigate flooding. We understand this project is not the only solution and we have done much to find other approaches to reduce impacts. But the regional communities working in consensus found a solution developed by the US Army Corps that is material”.
Freeholder Chairman Bruce Bergen wrote: On behalf of Union County I have been a strong supporter of moving this important flood control effort forward and urge the project get to construction in 2018."
The project is now before the US Army Corps of Engineers Chief Engineer for final approval. Already the US Congress, led by the efforts of Congressman Leonard Lance, Robert Menendez, Senator Cory Booker and Congressman Donald Payne, included the Rahway River flood mitigation project in the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 that requires funding for engineering and pre-construction once the Chief of Engineers approves the project. The multi-stage approval process has gone through every step with approvals including both economic and environmental, overseen by the US Army Corps of Engineers and has been endorsed by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The project would be 65% funded by the federal government; 25% by the state and the remaining by county or local governments.
In October the US Army Corps of Engineers has on its schedule a visit to the Orange Reservoir Dam and Rahway River to review key technical aspects of the plan.
Alternative 4a was selected as having the strongest cost-benefit ratio and includes modification to the Orange Reservoir, adding two 36 inch outfall pipes permitting the reservoir to be drained two days before a major storm to reduce significantly the water elevation downstream during the major storm event providing river with more flow capacity. There will be downstream channel improvements through Cranford with one and one-half mile of channel deepening with most of the channel work done in the river not on land. Also there is expected to be lifting or acquisition of numerous properties in the City of Rahway. The plan had the strongest benefit cost ratio as part of the federal process meaning the project benefits (less flood damages) exceeded project costs.
The Mayors Council includes 2017 Mayors of the affected communities: Maplewood Mayor Victor DeLuca; Cranford Mayor Thomas Hannen; Union Mayor Suzette Cavadas; Rahway Mayor Sam Steinman; Kenilworth Mayor Anthony Deluca; Springfield Mayor Diane Stampoulos; Millburn Mayor Cheryl Burstein.