UNION COUNTY — After Irene and Sandy, two of the worst storms on record, and with lingering climate change concerns that more extreme storms will be more regular, the Rahway River Watershed Storm water Advisory Board was formed to implement best practices to reduce storm water impacts during peak storms. While volunteers from 14 communities have worked towards that end in 2013, the task remains large given the overdevelopment in the region and often the passive interest by some communities.
The board established several objectives and has made progress towards successful implementation:
- Established the Join the 1000 Rahway River Watershed Rain Garden Campaign to develop rain gardens to absorb storm water on property and reduce run off. Plans in many of the communities have proceeded to construct large gardens; the Rahway River Watershed Association received a grant to construct two gardens; a campaign to attract homeowners to take it upon themselves to build small gardens; and plans for education activities are being developed for 2014.
- A new model Stormwater Best Practice ordinance was written which establishes stronger guidelines and encourages use of green infrastructure. All 24 communities in the Rahway River Watershed will receive a copy of the ordinance on January 1, 2014 and Mayors and planning and zoning boards and township engineers are being encouraged to implement the new standards.
- While not opposed to economic development with best storm water practices incorporated into plans, the board has taken strong positions against the proposed 360 unit Birchwood housing development in a flood plain in Cranford, and also urged the state not to permit the Rahway Arch project. First a thorough evaluation needs to be done of the potential flooding caused by the project. Recently the US Army Corps of Engineers has approved the request to include the Rahway Arch study in their assessment of the Rahway Basin.
While continued progress on the aforementioned items will continue to be critical other 2014 objectives include:
- Development of a comprehensive flood plain restoration plan that includes urging both Union and Essex Counties to increase their open space funding of flood plain properties
- A residential rain garden plan to encourage hundreds of residents to implement small green infrastructure projects on their properties
- A web based training program requiring self certification of planning and zoning board members and engineers of best storm water management practices
- Implementation by all 24 Rahway River Watershed communities of model storm water management ordinance.
The Rahway River Watershed Storm water Advisory Board is a board created to focus attention on the issues surrounding better storm water management.
The board members include: Vaclav Benes (Millburn) , Bob Mc Coy (Maplewood) , Kirk Barrett (South orange) Jim Housten (Rahway) ,Eric Benson (Essex County) ,Alyson Miller (Springfield) ,Hortense Dias (Springfield) ,C Lijoi, (Summit); Carol Berns (Cranford) , Ed OMalley (Cranford) , David Schwartzberg (Fanwood) , Frank Klapinski (Cranford),Jennifer Duckworth (Millburn and Essex County) , Mike Brick (West Orange) Ed Budney (Union) Betty Ann Kelly (Union County) Kaitalin Gordon (Orange) and John Hrebin (Cranford). The board advisors are Lynda Feder (Rahway River Association) Leo Coakley(Hatch Mott engineering); Julie Lange Groth (ANJEC).Kathy Murray and Sergio Capozzi (RRA)
The Rahway River Storm water Advisory Board next meeting is scheduled in late January date to be determined. Interested citizens are invited to call 908-468-8806.
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