It has been two weeks since Hurricane Ida dumped as much as 8.7 inches on our Lower Raritan communities. Chunks of dried brown-red river sediment still line the edges of Route 18 in New Brunswick. While most area roads function normally, traffic is detoured where rains opened sink holes, exposed failing culverts, and revealed weak spots in critical infrastructure. An abundance of trash, washed in by the deluge, remains along our streams and floodplains. Ida was a wake-up call: to improve our understanding of local hydrology, to identify locations of buried streams before culverts fail, and to respect and protect the flood management services of our floodplains.
Now that most of us have moved past tending the immediate mess of flooded homes and cars, we invite you to get involved with the LRWP to learn how hydrology works in your town, and to join in stewardship to clean up the collective mess Hurricane Ida left behind. Want to know how your town can better manage stormwater and address flooding? Register for our FREE virtual workshop on October 7: “Municipal Actions to Address Stormwater and Flooding.” Are you curious about flood gates, and the pros and cons of natural vs. engineered approaches to flood control? Join us October 3 for our second “walk in the watershed” in Bound Brook with Rutgers Professor David Tulloch, who will lead conversation about how the D&R Canal and the flood gates function in storms. Ready to roll up your sleeves to beautify our floodplains? Register for our September 26 clean-up in Highland Park! (And be sure to save the date for a multi-jurisdiction clean-up in Green Brook scheduled for October 23).
Finally, we encourage you to work with your town to make stormwater, stormwater utilities, and water infrastructure a centerpiece of municipal planning. Is your Environmental Commission or Town Council talking about flooding? Are FEMA floodmaps easy to find on your town’s website? Does your Master Plan consider minimizing upstream/downstream impacts of development on flooding in adjacent municipalities? Does your town have a stormwater education campaign? Is your engineer well versed in the latest water infrastructure best practices? Has your town developed a prioritized list of water infrastructure projects to earmark for American Rescue Plan and/or federal Infrastructure Bill funds? The LRWP website hosts a wealth of resources to help jumpstart these conversations.
See you in the watershed!
Heather Fenyk, President
Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership