Passaic Valley Regional Flood Board Sees Movement On Number of Projects

The Passaic Valley Regional Flood Board met last week to discuss movement forward on a number of projects. Credits: Tina Pappas
The Passaic Valley Regional Flood Board met last week to discuss movement forward on a number of projects. Credits: Tina Pappas

Members of the Passaic Valley Regional Flood Board, comprised of members from Little Falls, Woodland Park and Cedar Grove, received notice that the Army Corps of Engineers' (ACOE) Peckman Project permits can be granted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).

Nick Agnoli, flood board vice chairman, presented a rough sketch of a proposed plan to construct flood walls throughout areas of the Peckman River by the ACOE.

"This will allow for a very detailed survey for the flood board plain and we'll know specifically where the flood walls will be and their heights," said Dorothy O'Haire, flood board secretary, adding that the proposed plan is preliminary.

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Taking part in the recent meeting were visitors from the Pompton Lakes Flood Advisory Board:  Lauren Venin, chair, and Josie Brown, flood board member and legislative committee chair. Also present was Little Falls Mayor James Damiano and former Little Falls Mayor Darlene Conti.

The next step would be for ACOE to have meeting with the board and local officials to explain the project in detail, according to O'Haire.This meeting would be in preparation for an upcoming public meeting.

Jerry Oehlm, flood board chairman, said that the board compiled a series of questions directed at the ACOE after reviewing their mapping of the areas designated to build the walls.

"They were supposed to give us answers but they don't have the answers yet apparently," he said. "But they do want to have a meeting where they want to come out and meet with us sometime in January."

Oehlm said that the meeting would not be public and we take place prior to the next public flood board meeting.

"We'll have to start getting some dates as to what works and the appropriate venue," Oehlm added.  

River Gauges Update

The flood board also received permission from Passaic County for two of the three planned gauges and are waiting for the Department of Transportation's approval for the one that would be installed onthe Route 46 bridge.

The request for the gauges originated from the flood board members for county freeholders, through the Office of Emergency Management, to fund or partially fund the purchase, installation and maintenance of three gauges, which would be placed at the Francisco Avenue bridge, Main Street bridge and Route 46 bridge.  

Local officials have touted the warning system of the gauges in providing advance notice to residents prior to a flash flood event. The goal is to move residents out of harm's way. 

Agnoli told the flood board that he had done work with the Pompton Lakes Flood Advisory Board  in the past as an engineer.

"Their flood board is as aggressive as we are and they have interest in some of the gauge work that we're doing now in the Peckman River," Agnoli said. "The gauges that we looked for and are now getting ready to be installed for three towns-they are predictive and self reliant, meaning they are solar and satellite uplinked." 

Agnoli also noted that Gotham Analytics, the company that produces the river gauges, is standing by for those permits. It was also noted that the gauges are not able to be computer hacked because they work off of satellites. 

"I know Little Falls has worked hard to get it done," he explained. "They're still waiting on these permits to access both the Passaic County owned bridges and also the state owned bridge which is Route 46. I know that the county is in the final couple of weeks of getting the gauges permitted." 

Oehlm added that the flood board would follow up with the county for the permits. 

Peckman River Clean-Out

In her secretary's report, O'Haire that although the flood board did receive a grant for a clean-out project of the Peckman River, permission from the state attorney general was necessary to change wording that would enable the flood board to acquire a track hoe instead of hiring one, that would enable the towns of Little Falls and Woodland Park to conduct the Peckman River clean out for shoal removal.

"John Ritchy, grant manager for the NJDEP would be looking to see if the option was available for the board and if that can be permissible to remove shoals," she added.

PVSC Desnagging Project

Flood board members commended the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission's (PVSC) recent work on the Peckman River off McBride Avenue bridge in Woodland Park.

The PVCS's river restoration group is conducting remedial work on the Passaic River and its tributary, the Peckman River. Thomas Tucci, manager for Cedar Grove, spearheaded the project. Tucci is also chairman of the PVSC. According to Thomas Minnella, flood board member, more work is planned for the area.

"They said they would come back and do more started over and do up the river, where the 1225 McBride medical building is located at," he explained. "Apparently, there are trees down in the river near the location and they were going to start lifting those up. Last week they came in with track hoe and crane."

According to O'Haire, PVSC is mandated to do remedial work on the Passaic River and tributaries. 

"The desnagging work started in Woodland but the PVSC has plans to do all three towns," she noted.

Vice Chairman Resignation

Nick Agnoli informed fellow members that he would be stepping down immediately as flood board vice chairman due to a scheduling conflict with his membership on the Montville Township Planning Board. The flood board member voted to have Agnoli stay on as a non-paid technical advisor to the flood board.

Agnoli has served on the board since 2006 when it formed. He noted he would always be available to the board anytime advice is needed.

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