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Quijano & Wagner Bill to Reduce Flooding Risk Related to Reservoirs During Severe Weather Events Released by Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assemblywoman Annette Quijano sponsored to reduce flooding caused by overfilled reservoirs in New Jersey was released Monday by an Assembly committee.
The bill (A-3928) permits the Office of Emergency Management to order a reduction in reservoir levels before a weather emergency in consultation with the Department of Environmental Protection.
“Clearly it’s in the public interest to take a reasonably necessary step like this to prevent or reduce the severity of flooding during a weather emergency,” said Quijano (D-Union), who chairs the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee that released the bill. “This is really just common sense. Let’s put in place a plan and a system to ensure our reservoirs don’t contribute to flooding in weather emergencies.”
The bill would direct the DEP to identify reservoirs in the state with a documented record of flooding.
For each identified reservoir, the DEP would be directed to study and assess the downstream river or stream capacity and water storage capacity of the reservoir, and to study and assess the water usage needs of the residents and businesses served by the reservoir.
The bill permits the DEP to work in coordination with professionals having training and expertise in statewide water-resource infrastructure and management, including the U.S. Geological Survey.
“On the basis of these studies, the bill requires the DEP to set the maximum level for each reservoir at a level that best protects the areas surrounding it against flooding while ensuring a safe yield and adequate water supply,” said Wagner (D-Bergen/Passaic). “The DEP would also have to notify each reservoir owner of the adoption of these rules and regulations. With that, hopefully we’ll be positioned to better protect the public.”
Finally, the bill authorizes the Office of Emergency Management to utilize the results of the study to order that the water level of any reservoir in the state be lowered either before or during any severe weather event, if the office has made a determination that doing so is in the general public interest and reasonably necessary to prevent or reduce the severity of flooding.