Flood mitigation funding passes senate

UNION COUNTY, NJ — A bill appropriating $10,954,000 in funding to protect New Jersey communities threatened by repeated flooding passed in the senate last week.

Included in the FY2017 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Act appropriations bill is funding for the Green Brook Sub Basin, Rahway River Basin, and Jersey Shore back bays.

The $37.5 billion funding bill provides $6 billion for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civil works programs that fall under flood and storm damage reduction, navigation and ecosystem restoration activities.

In January, Sen. Robert Menendez and Sen. Cory Booker sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget requesting that funding for both the Rahway and Green Brook projects be prioritized in the president’s budget.

The Rahway River Basin, which runs through Union, Essex, and Middlesex counties, will receive $379,000 in funding, which will be used to complete a study needed to determine the most effective flood mitigation design along the river basin. The surrounding communities have suffered severe, widespread flooding on numerous occasions in recent decades, including during Tropical Storm Floyd in 1999 and Hurricane Irene in 2011, displacing residents and causing millions of dollars in property damage.

The Green Brook Sub Basin will receive $10,000,000 in funding, which will be used to advance a flood mitigation project to help communities in Middlesex, Somerset and Union Counties that experienced significant flooding from Tropical Storm Floyd in 1999, several nor’easters, and other storms. The plan consists of a system of levees, floodwalls, closure gates and pump stations in the lower portion of the basin, channel modifications and dry detention basins in the upper portion of the basin, and channel modifications in the Stony Brook portion of the basin.

The 65-square-mile Green Brook Sub Basin area is located within the Raritan River Basin area and includes the communities of Dunellen, Middlesex, Piscataway, South Plainfield, Bound Brook, Bridgewater, Green Brook, North Plainfield, Warren, Watchung, Berkeley Heights, Plainfield and Scotch Plains.
The state back bays project will receive $575,000 in funding, which will be used to study the effects of tidal flooding in the bays and estuaries along the Jersey Shore impacted by Superstorm Sandy and other major coastal storms. The shorelines of most of the back bays are low elevation, developed with residential and commercial infrastructure, and subject to tidal flooding during storms and exacerbated by sea level rise.

The study will evaluate flood reduction measures in the densely populated portions of back bays and mainland coastline areas bordering the bays and tidal tributaries, including private residences, commercial businesses, schools, infrastructure, roads, and evacuation routes for coastal emergencies. Potential solutions will involve making the at-risk areas more resilient to eliminate coastal storm damages and will take into account future environmental changes from climate change and sea level rise.

Booker told LocalSource that the funding will go far in keeping communities safe in the future. “For years, far too many communities across our state have been forced to endure the devastating impacts of flooding,” Booker said. “New Jersey families deserve to have the peace of mind that they are out of harm’s way and don’t have to live in constant fear of the next storm. These federally funded projects make an important investment in the safety and well-being of New Jerseyans by helping to mitigate the impact of flooding and making us more resilient in the face of future storms.”

Menendez said that the funding is vital on working toward a long-term solution. “Too many New Jersey families know firsthand the painful impacts of severe flooding and the toll it takes on entire communities,” said Menendez. “Whether it be Sandy, Irene, Floyd, or the seasonal nor’easter, our state is routinely in the path of severe storms that can destroy neighborhoods and wreak havoc on people’s lives. This funding is vital to moving these communities closer to a long-term flood mitigation solution that will protect residents and property. I am pleased that these important projects were prioritized in the President’s FY17 Budget request and funded through the Energy and Water Appropriations bill.”

The Energy and Water Appropriations Bill provides funding for programs at the Army Corps, U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, and represents a $355 million increase over last year.