The mayors and town engineers from towns affected by flooding along the Rahway will discuss flood mitigation with officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Trenton later this month.
The mayors of , , , Union, Garwood, Winfield Park and Rahway who are part of the , are trying to work together but also get the state and federal government involved to help share the cost of projects that will affect all of them.
One of the things they are looking at is to work with the city of Orange to lower water levels in the reservoirs in the South Mountain Reservation, which will help reduce flooding in downtown and the Washingto areas of town as well as down further downstream, said Millburn Mayor Sandy Haimoff.
"We have already talked to Orange about opening up ponds to help reduce the flow," said Mayor Haimoff. "They are willing to do that, but the DEP and the Army Corps of Engineers need to look at it.
"We are pushing everything forward as quickly as possible," Haimoff said of the meeting, which will be held Dec. 22. "I was happy and surprised that we got this meeting at DEP that quickly, especially around the holidays."
Faced with more than $100 million dollars in damages after the mayors met on Monday in Millburn and on Wednesday sent ato the governor seeking more than $20 million in state aid for the development of new floodwater storage areas and controls to slow the rapid flow of the river through their towns.
“The early estimates are that Irene caused over $100 million of damage in the communities that the Rahway River flows through,” the letter states. “Our residents are exposed to the extreme weather patterns and inadequate flood control protections. Our residents are concerned this type of damage will happen again sooner than later. We ask your direct consideration of a regional approach that will find solutions to mitigate this problem.”
The letter also states that as a regional planning effort, the towns “need state assistance so that projects can be done that will benefit as many communities as possible,” adding that 150,000 people were impacted adversely by the flooding after Irene.
In the letter to the governor, the mayors suggest that the “lame duck session” in 2011 would be a “perfect place to start to begin to fund the solutions to provide public safety for our citizens,” citing Chapter 163 Dam, Lake, Stream, Flood Control, Water Resources and Wastewater Treatment Project Bond Act of 2003 as a funding source.