Thursday, May 3, 2012

Officials say curb development in New Jersey flood basin

Daniel Hubbard in Continuing home buyouts and elevation projects, examining possible long-term mitigation solutions, and curbing development.

Local, state, and federal officials spoke about those flood-alleviation strategies at a symposium on Passaic County flooding at William Paterson University Wednesday. Officials said those strategies need to continue as part of an overarching plan of alleviating flooding in the Passaic River Basin.

Residents living in the basin have pleaded with officials to come up with a long-term solution to flooding. Some have suggested a water tunnel leading out to Newark Bay. Others want floodwalls and levees constructed throughout the basin. Residents have been particularly vocal about finding a solution ever since Hurricane Irene caused historic flooding in Wayne and the surrounding municipalities last August.

Wayne is in the process of buying out more than 50 homes in the Hoffman Grove section of town and dozens elsewhere.

Keynote speaker Jeffrey Hoffman said that such solutions were considered when then-historic flooding swept through Paterson in 1903. Solutions included creating several flood control reservoirs throughout the basin. Water could be channeled and drained into these otherwise dry reservoirs during flood events. Creating a flood tunnel was also examined, but these plans were ultimately not implemented.

Hoffman is chief of water supply modeling and planning with the New Jersey Geological and Water Survey with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Hoffman said that climate change, increased development in and upstream from the basin, and changes in the geology of river walls have significantly exacerbated flooding in the basin...

Great Falls of the Passaic River in Paterson, New Jersey. After flood March 17, 2010.Shot by Andrzejzee, public domain

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