DESCRIPTION: Flooding has long been a problem in the Passaic River Basin. Since colonial times, floods have claimed lives and damaged property. The most severe flood, the "flood of record," occurred in 1903, and more recent floods in 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, two in 1975, 1984, 1992, 1999, 2005, 2007 and 2010 were sufficiently devastating to warrant Federal Disaster declarations. The flood of 1984 resulted in the loss of three lives and caused $642 million in damages (October 2006 dollars). Tropical Storm Floyd in September 1999 caused over $261 million in flood damages (October 2006 dollars). The April 2007 flood caused over $686 million in damages (October 2006 dollars).
AUTHORIZATION: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been working on plans to reduce flooding in the basin since 1936, but no comprehensive plan has yet been implemented. Congress authorized a new study of the Passaic River Basin for the State of New Jersey in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 1976 (Public Law 94-587) which led to a plan authorized in WRDA 1990 and modified in WRDA 1992, WRDA 1996, and WRDA 2000. The project includes several elements (see separate fact sheet on the Passaic River Main Stem). The element described herein is the Preservation of Natural Flood Storage Areas, which the State asked the Corps to implement. The Preservation element includes the acquisition of approximately 5,350 acres of natural storage areas, 5,200 acres of which are wetlands and could conceivably be developed, worsening existing flood problems. The Central Passaic River Basin includes approximately 21,000 acres of frequently inundated low lying and marshy lands adjacent to the Passaic River and several tributaries including Rockaway River and Whippany River in the south, and Pompton River in the north. The Preservation element will prevent flood damages from becoming worse. It will not reduce flooding in the Passaic River Basin. The cost sharing is set at 75% Federal and 25% State. The State, as non-Federal sponsor may reduce its share by applying credits included in the authorization.
STATUS: The General Design Memorandum for the element was completed in July 1996 and the State requested that the Corps proceed with its implementation at a current cost of $22.1 million dollars (October 2003 price level). The Corps completed a Real Estate Design Memorandum for purchasing the natural flood storage lands and executed a Project Cooperation Agreement with the State in June 1999. To date, approximately 2,836 acres have been acquired in fee, by conservation easement, or already held under State protection. All lands acquired are managed by the State in terms of ownership or easement. Further acquisitions have not taken place due to owners not willing to sell, provide an easement, or parcels are too small to provide a cost-effective addition to the project.
P: (917) 790-8727
CONGRESSIONALDISTRICTS: NJ-08, NJ-11