Gordon, Wagner & Eustace Encourage Eligible 38th District Towns to Apply for DEP Grants to Help Alleviate Future Flood Damage along Passaic River Basin

(TRENTON) – Senator Robert M. Gordon, Assemblywoman Connie Wagner and Assemblyman Tim Eustace – all representatives from the 38th District – are encouraging eligible municipalities in Bergen and Passaic counties to apply for available grants for flood control projects that can help mitigate and minimize future flood damage in communities along the Passaic River Basin.

“Towns along the Passaic River have consistently been plagued by flooding as a result of storms, with areas devastated after Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. These funds will provide a measure of relief for local communities that have seen the effects of flooding caused by debris-laden waterways and will help to mitigate problems from future storms,” said Gordon. “I encourage municipalities to take advantage of this important grant funding to undertake stream-clearing projects. These efforts will allow us to better safeguard our residents against the destruction that is caused by severe weather events, which is critical as so-called 100-year storms are becoming increasingly more frequent.”

“Flooding along the Passaic River Basin is not a matter of if, but when. The basin was spared by Hurricane Sandy, but it has not been so lucky in the past, so we must prepare for the inevitable,” said Wagner. “We know the extent of damage that flooding can cause. I hope all eligible municipalities in Bergen and Passaic counties will take advantage of these grants to clear the river of debris and minimize the threat to property owners when the next big storm hits.”

“The weather is becoming more extreme, so we must take proactive steps to reduce the damage that can be caused by storms, especially in flood-prone communities,” said Eustace. “There are people still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Sandy a year later. Every town that qualifies for these grants owes it to its residents to apply to help curb the potential damage.”

The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) grants are for de-snagging and shoal dredging work. The grants are made possible by a law co-sponsored by Gordon, Wagner and Eustace, which re-appropriated $3 million from the “Dam, Lake, Stream, Flood Control, Water Resources and Wastewater Treatment Project Bond Act of 2003” to fund these projects.

A stream cleaning or de-snagging project consists of the removal of accumulated sediments, debris, garbage or vegetation from a stream with a natural stream bed, or the removal of any accumulated material from a stream previously channelized with concrete or similar artificial material, to improve for the purposes of flood control, the use of function of any stream.

The eligible towns include Fair Lawn, Glen Rock, Hawthorne, Hasbrouck Heights, Lodi, Maywood, New Milford, Paramus, Rochelle Park and Saddle Brook. Each individual grant to a municipality is expected to be in the area of $100,000, although the DEP may award additional funds if a project is deemed to be especially important in addressing local or regional flooding.

Municipalities with related projects are also encouraged to submit their letters of interest as one project through their county. Municipalities and counties have until November 30 to submit letters of interest to the DEP. The letters should include a statement of need, a description of the requested de-snagging and/or shoal dredging project, with an estimated cost of the project, including engineering, permitting, bidding and construction.

The DEP will establish a priority list for funding based upon previous flood damage in each applicant community, the likelihood of success of proposed projects in alleviating flood impacts, and whether municipalities or counties are willing to contribute matching funds to the project, among other considerations. Combined projects will be ranked in the priority list based upon the highest ranking municipality in the group.