NJAW breaks ground on $65 million flood protection project

Photo Courtesy of Denise Venuti
From left are Andrew J. McNally, chief counsel for New Jersey Board of Public Utilities; Assemblyman John DiMaio; David Zimmer, executive director of the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust; Robert MacLean, president of New Jersey American Water; Robert Schaefer, senior director of central operations for NJAW; Daniel Kennedy, assistant commissioner of water resources management for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection; Peter Palmer, Somerset County freeholder; and Bridgewater Mayor Daniel Hayes Jr.

VOORHEES, NJ — New Jersey American Water is breaking ground today on a significant, long-term flood protection project at its Raritan-Millstone Water Treatment Plant. This $65 million investment will help ensure protection from the increased risk of flooding during extreme weather events, and maintain a sustainable water supply for more than 1 million people in Central New Jersey.

“Providing clean, safe, reliable water service is a responsibility we take seriously, not just for our 2.7 million customers in New Jersey, but also for millions of others in the state who rely on us during an emergency,” NJAW President Robert MacLean said in a press release. “By fortifying the resiliency of this critical infrastructure, we ensure a sustainable water supply for more than one million people who rely on this every day, as well as maintain our ability to help supply the cities of Newark and Trenton if needed during an emergency.”

The Raritan-Millstone Water Treatment Plant, situated in Bridgewater, is NJAW’s largest water production facility, and is a regional source of potable water supply for all or parts of seven counties in Central New Jersey. Water supply from the plant is also provided to five large bulk water sales connections, and two Critical Regional Emergency Interconnections — the cities of Newark and Trenton. The plant produces an average system delivery of 155 million gallons a day, and is capable of peaking at 190 million gallons a day. It is a Tier 1 New Jersey Office of Homeland Security & Preparedness facility, and considered “Critical Infrastructure” by the federal Department of Homeland Security.

The plant is located near the confluence of the Raritan and Millstone rivers. This area of Somerset County experiences severe flooding during significant storm events due to the relative low ground surface elevations in the floodways adjacent to the two rivers. The existing earthen berms and north side reinforced concrete flood wall surrounding the plant are designed to provide flood protection for a 100-year flood event, which is marked by an elevation of 44 feet. The current system of flood protection has been tested three times in recent years where peak flood water levels were recorded within inches from the top of the berm/wall.

This $65 million flood protection project will provide flood protection from storm events up to 500-year recurrence frequency, marked by an elevation of 48 feet, which is the level of flood resiliency supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. The majority of the $38 million cost of raising the north flood wall, approximately $27.2 million, is being funded through low-interest financing from New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

In addition to raising the plant’s north flood wall by 4 feet, the project also includes raising and widening the northeast berms, installing new flood gates, improving drainage mechanisms, installing a new low-lift pump station and replacing emergency generators.

The entire scope of the project is expected to be completed by December 2018. New Jersey American Water has contracted with AECOM and Gannett-Fleming for design engineering and KC Construction and Allied Construction Group to help complete this significant project.