Preliminary findngs by the Army Corps of Engineers indicate that there are some solutions upstream from Union County that might help with flood mitigation in the towns along the Rahway River.
"There were promising flood mitigation solutions contained in a preliminary U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report provided to the Mayors Council on Rahway River Flood Control at its April 3 meeting," former Cranford Mayor Daniel Aschenbach said. Aschenbach was involved with the creation of the and continues to be involved in the organization.
The council's most recent meeting took place at the Union Township Municipal Building and was hosted by Union Mayor Joseph Florio. Mayors of Springfield, Kenilworth, Cranford, Rahway, Union and Millburn were present.
The Army Corps' hydrology report indicated that the storage solutions upstream, including up to two feet of water in the South Mountain Reservation, could hold significant benefits to the downstream communities from Millburn to Rahway. While stressing this was preliminary findings of the Corps hydrology study, the Mayors Council expects that they "are on the right track to find optimal solutions to mitigate some of the flooding issues.
"The Army Corps will now be finalizing its evaluation and developing a cost-benefit assessment," Aschenbach said.
Recently, the Mayors Council submitted a request to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and NJ State Department of Environmental protection to include the East Branch of the Rahway River in the study of flood mitigation alternatives.
"The effort is to try to assess whether there is flood storage potential at golf courses and other open space areas as far up the east branch of the river as South Orange," said Aschenbach, who serves as the group's spokesperson.
As part of this effort, Springfield will host a meeting of the east branch communities on April 23 to discuss the possibilities of various flood mitigation strategies.
At the Mayors Council meeting last week, Union County Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella praised the group for its work and pledged county cooperation to find ways to mitigate flooding along the Rahway River and in other flood-pron areas. Mirabella requested a more narrow version of the council’s open space proposal be considered. He asked that the plan include only he acquisition of flood-prone properties adjacent to parkland and
"Also, that the county will be further engaged in needed river maintenance," Aschenbach said.
Aschenbach said a decision to request a meeting with all relevant parties was made to resolve an impasse between NJ Department of Transportation and NJDEP on debris cleanup under a state highway bridge that is causing localized flooding.
"Six months after Irene, numerous river maintenance issues, including routine maintenance, have been held up due to onerous regulation on desnagging and routine maintenance," he said
Each of the mayors were asked to have their communities pledge to implement
changes to reduce the impervious surfaces at their school and municipal facilities by 10 percent by 2015 to set an example for the rest of the community. Also, to review their ordinance to ensure they encourage best practices for storm water management.
The meeting concluded with a resident informing the mayors that the promising
developments mentioned were fantastic but have not been implemented yet.
"That reality and the recent estimate that residents had suffered more than $60 million in damages are key to the continued engagement of the Mayor’s Council to implement its plan," Aschenbach said.