WOODLAND PARK/LITTLE FALLS, NJ - Mayor Keith Kazmark, Little Falls Mayor James Damiano, Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Col. Tom Asbery announced the finalization and USACE sign off on the Peckman River flood mitigation plan.
After a sign-off by assistant secretary of the Army for civil works and the Office of Management and Budget it can be submitted to Congress for authorization and funding. Local officials hope it will be funded as part of the 2020 Water Act.
“We have gone through so many versions of this plan,” Mayor Kazmark said. “We’ve pared it down as much as possible to a point we felt would address the major needs adequately.”
The $146 million flood mitigation plan calls for:
- A 1,500-foot-long, 40-foot diameter diversion tunnel constructed between the Peckman and Passaic Rivers to divert water from the Peckman to the Passaic. The tunnel will run under the Amalgamated Meat Cutters parking lot, Paterson Avenue and part of the Little Falls recreation department field.
- 1,848 linear feet of channel modifications
- 2,170 linear feet of levees and or floodwalls
- 1,207 linear feet of levees and/or floodwalls in the vicinity of Passaic Valley High School, between the track and baseball fields.
- Elevation of up to 16 structures
- Flood-proofing of as many as 58 structures.
“The diversion tunnel is huge for us,” Mayor Kazmark added, as water will be diverted prior to it reaching the Borough. In Little Falls, it will also miss the Jackson Park section, which is the area that has been devastated in previous floods. Mayor Damiano added that the effect on the Passaic River will nominal, if at all. The Peckman is a river that flash floods, while the Passaic will crest and flood days later, long after water diverted from the Peckman is sent through the diversion tunnel.
The announcement has been 20 years in the making. On June 21, 2000, Congress authorized the initial study of the Peckman. After Hurricane Floyd, the towns mobilized and formed the Passaic Valley Regional Flood Control Board, which over the years has worked on and seen numerous versions of studies and proposals.
When I was sworn in as mayor in 2017, people told me 'don't hold your breath. It will never happen'" Mayor Damiano said. "The amount of work done by everyone on this project has been tremendous."
The Peckman has caused so much devastation, Mayor Damiano noted, adding that just the 2018 flooding alone resulted in over $38 million in damages.
"The 2018 flood was just a stark reminder of the importance of this project," Col. Asbery said, in detailing the plan's benefits.
“You have been doing this on your own, and these communities have been waiting for 20 years,” Congresswoman Sherrill said. “You deserve federal action. You can count on me to fight for appropriations.”