Rahway, Cranford to hold Rahway River Basin meetings

Rahway, Cranford to hold Rahway River Basin meetings
  1. Rahway, Cranford to hold Rahway River Basin meetings
    Communities along the Rahway River Basin, especially Rahway and Cranford, are always on edge during heavy rain, for fear of…
    New Jersey (NJ)
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Flooding at the Ideal Mobile Home Community in Woodbridge on Aug. 29, 2011, two days after Tropical Storm Irene.(Photo: ~File)

Story Highlights

  • Public meetings will be held Wednesday and Thursday on the Rahway River Basin flood study
  • Wednesday's meeting will be held at Union County College
  • Thursday's meeting will be at the Rahway Public Library
  • Both meetings start at 7 p.m.

UNION COUNTY - Communities along the Rahway River Basin, especially Rahway and Cranford, are always on edge during heavy rain, for fear of flooding.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Environmental Protection are working to study and identify flood risk management options, and both Rahway and Cranford will hold public information sessions this week to discuss the Draft Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement developed for the study.

Residents can attend the meeting Wednesday at the Roy E. Smith Theatre, Union County College, 1033 Springfield Ave., Cranford, or the Thursday session at the Rahway Public Library, 2 City Hall Plaza, Rahway. Both meetings will begin at 7 p.m. and will include a formal information presentation from 7:30 to 8 p.m., followed by a poster board session and information exchange from 8 to 9 p.m.

READ: House passes Lance's Rahway River study legislation

READ: Completion of Rahway River feasibility study on track

READ: Menendez, Lance tour Rahway River flood project site

The feasibility report and environmental impact statement evaluate plans to address flooding problems along the Rahway River Basin, an 82-square-mile area from the Oranges to Carteret, and the environmental impact of tentatively selected plan recommended in the report.

The Rahway River watershed provides drinking water to Rahway residents while also serving as home to hundreds of plant species and about 5,000 acres of county parkland. The watershed runs through 24 municipalities: Carteret, Clark, Cranford, Edison, Fanwood, Garwood, Kenilworth, Linden, Maplewood, Metuchen, Millburn, Mountainside, Orange, Plainfield, Rahway, Scotch Plains, Springfield, South Orange, Summit, Westfield, West Orange, Winfield Park, Woodbridge and Union.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, flooding along the Rahway River Basin is caused mostly by development, which has increased stormwater runoff. The flooding has resulted in damage to homes, businesses municipal facilities and public infrastructure.

Most of the damage has resulted from storms in July 1938, May 1968, August 1971, August 1973, July 1975, June 1992, October 1996, July 1997, Tropical Storm Floyd in September 1999, the April 2007 nor'ester and Hurricane Irene in August 2011.

Rahway's public library on St. Georges Avenue, near a tributary of the Rahway River, was destroyed in Tropical Storm Floyd. The building had to be demolished and rebuilt near City Hall.

Hurricane Irene in 2011 caused more than $50 million in damage to communities along the river, impacting 3,000 homes, including 1,600 in Cranford. Some people were out of their homes for more than a year.

Following an extensive analysis of alternatives, a tentatively selected plan that will provide flood risk management to Cranford, Springfield, Millburn and Rahway was identified. The plan, known as Alternative 4A, includes channel improvements in Cranford and modification to the Orange Reservoir dam spillway in West Orange, as well as the acquisition of properties in Rahway. The plan was selected based on a cost-benefit analysis.

U.S. Sen.Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Col. David Caldwell discuss the flood mitigation options while standing along the banks of the Rahway River behind the Cranford Canoe Club last year. (Photo: ~Courtesy of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez)

Last year, U.S. Rep Leonard Lance (R-N.J. 7th District) joined U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Col. David Caldwell, commander of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of New York, for a site visit of the proposed solution. The three toured the Rahway River to observe the efforts taken to mitigate the flooding.

But the New Jersey Sierra Club believes the plan won't work without holistic alternatives.

“In order to deal with flooding, you have to have a long-term holistic approach. The plan needs to consider non-structural solutions instead of man made structures, which will always fail. Man made structures like l…

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