Mayors Council Pushes Flood Mitigation Plan Forward

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WEST ORANGE — At a meeting this past week of the Mayors Council Rahway River Watershed Flood Control, held at McLoones next to the Orange Reservoir, the Mayors preliminarily agreed to a plan to be presented to the US Army Corps of Engineers that could form the basis of the optimal flood control alternative.  The Mayor’s alternative would modify the South Mountain Regional Detention Dam size, continue the road through the area, urge recreational improvements there and move project closer to Campbell’s Mill Pond.  The plan would contain elements of Lenape and Robinson’s Branch storage and channel improvements in and around Cranford.

It is now expected the US Army Corps of Engineers and state DEP will publicly present the national alternative in September from a group of seven different alternatives to maximize flood control solutions.  That alternative will be required to achieve a positive benefit-cost ratio.  The New Jersey DEP Commissioner Bob Martin has communicated that once an alternative is selected, the state will fund some of the evaluations to accelerate the work needed to arrive at a final plan.

The South Mountain Detention Dam would lower river elevations by almost three feet in Millburn, Springfield  and Union and benefit Maplewood on the  east branch of the Rahway River lowering elevations there and providing a lower level in Cranford, Kenilworth and Rahway.  For Cranford and Rahway, the upstream flood water storage during peak storm events would allow local projects such as channel improvements and other storage projects to proceed.  In Cranford the lower elevation is estimated at more than four feet.

The Mayors Council has continued to work on refinements to the proposed project to reduce costs and accelerate the process.  At the Mayors Council meeting a presentation was made by representatives of Winning Strategies Mike Merola  on ways a federal strategy could help move forward the selected project to being funded and implemented.

The Mayors also heard from Leo Coakley, Hatch Mott engineer on an agreement with Essex County and the City of Orange to study the current protocol on the lowering of the Orange Reservoir prior to major storms without impacting the county’s facilities. That effort has begun.

The Mayors Council also met recently with the Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, Jr. led by Mayor Sandy Haimoff in the County Executive’s office.  The County Executive remains open to the various proposals to bring flood control downstream.  The major key is to ensure that county facilities such as the road system and park are not adversely impacted.

Mayor Sandra Haimoff said “We appreciate the openness of the County Executive so we can try to find the best flood control alternative and protect our residents.”

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