Flood Prone Towns Meet With DEP
New Milford, River Edge and Oradell meet with DEP to talk about flood maps and mitigation
Mayor Ann Subrizi, Councilwoman Hedy Grant and representatives from River Edge and Oradell met with representatives of the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP): Cindy Randazzo, Director of the Office of Local Government Assistance; Fred Sickles, Acting Director of Water Supply and Geoscience; and John Moyle, engineer and Manager, Bureau of Dam Safety & Flood Control
Also present at the meeting were borough engineer Margita Batistic, New Milford Police Chief and Emergency Management Coordinator Frank Papapietro and Borough Administrator Christine Demiris.
Subrizi reported at both Monday's meeting of the Mayor and Council and Tuesday's meeting of the Planning Board that the meeting with the NJDEP focused on three areas:
- Lowering the reservoir in advance of a storm
- Revising the current flood maps that date to 1982
- Dredging the Hackensack River
According to Subrizi, the idea of lowering the reservoir in advance of a storm for flood mitigation is not well received by NJDEP.
"They consider water supply more important than flood mitigation and they don’t think a drinking water reservoir can be used in flood mitigation," Subrizi said.
"Our reservoir is only 23.16 feet deep and considered 'shallow' compared to other reservoirs in the state that reach depths of 100 feet," Subrizi said.
Grant reported that the NJDEP said that they can only order United Water to lower the water if they think that the dam is endangered.
Subrizi said that the NJDEP maintained that the levels the resevoirs are kept at are necessary in order to to meet the potable water needs of our area.
According to Subrizi, the NJDEP said that when United Water holds water back it's so they can meet demand.
The Mayor also reported that the NJDEP is working with FEMA to update the flood map and showed a preliminary map outlining today's 100 and 500 year floodplain to the Planning Board on Tuesday.
Batistic said that the 1982 flood map that the borough has been working from does not reflect the development that has taken place. Subrizi said that the NJDEP expects the new flood map to be ready in approximately one year.
When asked if, in the new flood map, the 100 year floodplain will go beyond the current 500 year floodplain, Batistic said that the NJDEP said, "Probably not."
With regard to dredging the Hackensack River, Subrizi reported that the NJDEP said that although it is expensive, it can be done independently, or through the Army Corps of Engineers; however, the NJDEP doesn't have faith this will give mitigation relief more than once.
According to Subrizi, the NJDEP said, "It’s not the depth of the water but the height of the water, so after filling the hole once that would be it."
A copy of the new preliminary flood map can be viewed at the building department in Borough Hall.
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