Menendez Meets with Rahway River Mayors to Discuss Flood Mitigation Efforts

Menendez Meets with Rahway River Mayors to Discuss Flood Mitigation Efforts

Army Corps FY17 budget proposal includes $379,000 to address Rahway River flooding

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today met with members of the Mayors' Council Rahway River Watershed Flood Control in his Washington, D.C. office to discuss the need of local communities for long-term flood mitigation.  The President’s FY2017 Budget, delivered to Congress this week, includes an additional $379,000 for the Army Corps of Engineers to complete a key study needed to finish a flood mitigation project along the Rahway River Basin, which flows through Union, Essex and Middlesex Counties.  The federal government has already provided $2,770,600 since the study was first authorized in 1997. 

“I fully understand the urgency to complete this study and you have my full support, as this is my highest priority project for the Army Corps,” Sen. Menendez told the mayors.  “Communities along the Rahway River Basin have been fighting nearly two decades for funding to address severe flooding along the river that has damaged homes, businesses, roads and municipal facilities.  It’s time to take the next the step to protect the area and restore the River Basin.”

The Rahway River watershed is one of the Garden State’s oldest urbanized areas, featuring woodlands and wetlands that support over 700 species of plants and animals, some 5,000 acres of county parklands and the source of drinking water for the City of Rahway.  It runs through 24 municipalities including Carteret, Clark, Cranford, Edison, Fanwood, Garwood, Kenilworth, Linden, Maplewood, Metuchen, Millburn, Mountainside, Orange, Plainfield, Rahway, Scotch Plains, Springfield, South Orange, Westfield, West Orange, Winfield Park, Woodbridge, Union and Summit.

"We are grateful for the leadership and steadfast support that Senator Menendez has shown in working to advance the Rahway River Flood Mitigation project in a Congress and before the US Army Corps of Engineers.  We are pleased at the successful dedication of funds to date, and are committed to working with Senator Menendez and all our communities and constituents to bring meaningful protection from flooding as expeditiously as possible," said Union County Freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski on behalf of the group.

Communities in the 82-square-mile Rahway River Basin have suffered numerous severe, widespread flooding on numerous occasions in the recent decades, including during Tropical Storm Floyd in 1999 and Hurricane Irene in 2011, displacing residents and causing millions in property damage.

The N.Y. District Army Corps, N.J. Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and the local communities have been working to complete a feasibility study to identify various flood risk management alternatives for communities along the Rahway River Basin with a focus on Cranford and Rahway.

After federal funding was abruptly cut off in FY2014, Sen. Menendez led a bipartisan delegation letter to the Army Corps requesting the necessary funding to advance those efforts.  The federal government responded in early 2015 with $500,000 in immediate funding included in the Army Corps Work Plan, and an additional $500,000 in the FY2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act that passed later in the year.

Among the public officials attending today’s meeting were: Mayors’ Council Co-Founder and former Cranford Mayor Dan Aschenbach; Union Twp. Mayor Manuel Figueiredo; Cranford Mayor Andy Kalnins, Deputy Mayor Mary O’Connor and Commissioner Tom Hanna; Maplewood Mayor Victor DeLuca; Springfield Mayor Jerry Fernandez; and Rahway Mayor Samson Steinman; and Freeholder Kowalski.