Hydrology experts call the Passaic River one of the most flood prone rivers in the U.S. Public officials have been trying to deal with the Passaic’s chronic flooding for more than 150 years, digging ditches through wetlands to improve drainage, building dams and reservoirs to control storm water, widening and dredging the river’s channel to ease flow. Nothing helped. The Passaic has kept on flooding. Now, it’s Governor Chris Christie’s turn.
Christie appointed a new Passaic River Flood Advisory Commission and charged its seven members with submitting a report by year’s end on ways to prevent and respond to flooding. The Commission held its first public meeting in May at Montclair State; two more public hearings are expected in July and August.
The Commission will review the many previously recommended solutions, including expanding and accelerating the state program that buys up properties in the river’s floodplain, and revisiting some old Army Corps of Engineers’ flood control suggestions. Follow the Commission’s progress and learn when and where the public hearings will be held.
Despite the Commission’s best effort, however, we have to recognize and accept the fact that flooding is what a river does. What makes the Passaic’s natural spring and fall high water so problematic is all the homes and businesses that have been built in the river’s natural floodplain, and the destruction of the acres of wetlands which, had they been preserved, would have absorbed and protected communities from the excess water.