Rahway River study receives $379,000 in federal funding

WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker highlighted $10,954,000 in funding to protect New Jersey communities threatened by repeated floods contained within the fiscal year 2017 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Act appropriations bill, which passed in the Senate on May 12. Among the projects receiving funding is the ongoing effort from communities along the Rahway River to protect lives and properties from the destruction brought when the river overflows.

“Too many New Jersey families know firsthand the painful impacts of severe flooding and the toll it takes on entire communities,” Menendez said in a press release. “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.”

“For years, far too many communities across our state have been forced to endure the devastating impacts of flooding,” Booker said in the release. “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.”

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, including critical anti-flooding projects such as for the Green Brook Sub Basin, New Jersey back bays and the Rahway River Basin.

The recent Rahway River Basin funding, which amounts to $379,000, will be used to complete the key study needed to determine the most effective flood mitigation design along the Rahway River Basin, which flows through Union, Essex and Middlesex counties. The surrounding communities — especially Cranford and Springfield — have suffered severe, widespread flooding on numerous occasions in recent decades, including during Tropical Storm Floyd in 1999 and Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, displacing residents and causing millions in property damage. The federal government has already provided $2,770,600 since the study was first authorized in 1997.

“Mayors Council Rahway River Watershed Flood Control appreciates the efforts of Senator Menendez, Senator Booker, Congressman Lance and Congressman Payne, and our other representatives in getting the necessary funds to complete the Rahway River Flood Mitigation study,” former Cranford Mayor Dan Aschenbach, now a founding member and spokesman for the Mayors Council, of which Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca is a member, told the News-Record via email. “The federal funds are matched by the state which already has budgeted the state funds. We are expecting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to put forward its flood control recommendation based on the study in the next month. This sets us up in good position to get construction authorization by Congress late in 2016. Senator Menendez, Senator Booker and Congressman Lance have served citizens well.”

“I want to thank senators Menendez and Booker for getting this funding approved,” DeLuca told the News-Record via email. “It is critical that the planning work for the Rahway River flood basin continues to move forward. This funding will make that possible. I also want to thank my fellow mayors along the river who worked on a bipartisan basis to advocate for our region.”