Governor Chris Christie signed legislation in January creating an 18-member Rockland-Bergen Bistate River Commission made up of officials and residents of both states to coordinate the management and flood prevention of waterways that flow between Bergen County, NJ and Rockland County, NY. However, New York legistators seem to be dragging their feet.
Senator Robert Gordon and Assemblymembers Connie Wagner and Tim Eustace, along with members of the Bergen County delegation and mayors, have signed a letter addressed to the New York State Senate urging them to pass legislation that has already been enacted by New Jersey in order to create a Rockland-Bergen Bistate flood commission.
Citing the devastating effects of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee on the residents of New York and New Jersey and on the budgets of municipal governments, the legislators want to cross the border and join forces to work together to achieve "better outcomes during future weather events."
From Lake DeForest in West Nyack, the Hackensack River feeds into three reservoirs — Lake Tappan in Rockland County, and Woodcliff Lake and Oradell in Bergen County. Because these three reservoirs are capable of holding much less water than Lake DeForest, releasing water upstream can cause severe flooding downstream.
According to the legislation, the commission will focus on the Hackensack River, Sparkill Creek, Saddle River and the Ramapo River and their tributaries that cross the interstate border to come up with a "comprehensive bistate approach" to identify and remediate potential flood hazards that have devastated communities along those waterways.
The commission will be charged with "assessing projected development and land use" and the potential impact on the waterways; coordinate environmental cleanup; and coordinate with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation their watershed management programs.