Veolia, state DEP says it won’t lower Lake Woodcliff reservoir despite flood risk

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The water company and the state Department of Environmental Protection said they would not lower the Woodcliff Lake Reservoir despite concerns from residents and lawmakers about flooding.

News 12 reported flooding in some towns in Bergen County last week. It’s in response to growing pressure from residents, mayors and lawmakers, who increasingly say they’re underwater not from big storms – just rain.

They say the water company, Veolia, should lower the reservoir a few feet.

Veolia says it must protect supply. He blames development in floodplains, poorly managed rivers and streams.

The state could order the water to be lowered, but the DEP says the predictions are wrong and the reservoirs are not designed to mitigate flooding.

DEP says Gov. Phil Murphy is focused on other ways to deal with flooding. He sent News 12 a lengthy statement:

Statement from the NJ Department of Environmental Protection regarding increased flooding in several towns in Bergen County.

“While DEP cannot support reservoir lowering as a flood risk reduction measure, DEP is committed to helping communities cope with flood risk. Some of the initiatives of the Murphy administration available to communities include:

• Resilient NJ: Local Planning for Climate Change Toolkit, which provides valuable resources for developing community-specific, science-based strategies and actions that will protect homes, businesses, critical infrastructure and natural resources

• Clean Stormwater and Flood Reduction Act Guidance, which provides support to communities wishing to establish stormwater services capable of generating the investments needed to improve and deploy infrastructure to reduce flood risk and improve water quality. the water.

• New Jersey Water Bank, a partnership between DEP and the state’s Infrastructure Bank, which provides low-interest loans for the construction of various water quality protection measures, including rainwater and diffuse water management.

• Watershed Planning and Restoration Grants, which help local governments and other organizations improve the management and restoration of watersheds altered by non-point source pollution associated with runoff from development areas which also increases the potential for risk of flooding.

• Blue Acres, which facilitates state acquisition of properties that have been damaged or are at risk of damage by flooding or land that can buffer or protect other properties from such damage.

Statement from Veolia spokesperson Debra Vial:

State regulators do not allow us to release water at will. On the contrary, we are required to protect the water supply to ensure that there is enough of this precious resource to serve the more than one million people who depend on us. Over the generations, our operation of the reservoirs and our safeguarding of the water supply have not changed. What has changed is the continued development of floodplains, the increased voracity of storms and snags and other debris impeding the flow of rivers and streams in municipalities.

We have offered to help municipalities coordinate the clearing of their waterways and we share storm information with their emergency management teams. In neighboring Passaic County and other areas of the state, officials turned to Blue Acres financing to buy landlords in low-lying areas and halted development in flood-prone areas. We understand the impact of these storms on some homeowners. There are solutions.”

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