Veolia, state DEP says it won’t lower Woodcliff Lake reservoir despite flooding concerns

Both the water company and state Department of Environmental Protection say they will not lower the Woodcliff Lake reservoir despite flooding concerns from residents and lawmakers.

News 12 Staff

Jun 19, 2022, 8:42 PM

Updated 735 days ago

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Both the water company and state Department of Environmental Protection say they will not lower the Woodcliff Lake reservoir despite flooding concerns from residents and lawmakers.
News 12 reported last week about flooding in certain towns in Bergen County. It's in response to growing pressure from residents, mayors and lawmakers, who say increasingly they are under water not from big storms – but just plain rain.
They say the water company, Veolia, should lower the reservoir by a few feet.
Veolia says it has to protect the supply. It blames development in flood plains, poorly managed rivers and streams.
The state could order the lowering of the water, but the DEP says forecasting is flawed and reservoirs are not designed to mitigate floods. 
DEP says Gov. Phil Murphy is focused on other ways to deal with flooding. It sent News 12 a lengthy statement:
Statement from NJ Department of Environmental Protection about increasing flooding in several Bergen County towns.
"While DEP cannot support reservoir lowering as a flood risk reduction measure, DEP is committed to helping the communities address flood risk. Some of the Murphy Administration initiatives 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 for communities that wish to establish stormwater utilities capable of generating investment necessary to enhance and deploy infrastructure intended to reduce flood risk and improve water quality.
• New Jersey Water Bank, a partnership between DEP and the state’s Infrastructure Bank, which provides low-interest loans for the construction of a variety of water quality protection measures, including stormwater and nonpoint source management facilities.
• Watershed Planning and Restoration Grants, which aid local governments and other organizations in improving the management and restoration of watersheds impaired by the non-point source pollution associated with runoff from development areas that similarly increases flood risk potential.
• Blue Acres, which facilitates state acquisition of properties that have been damaged or may be prone damage from flooding or lands that may 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. Rather, we are required to protect the water supply to ensure there is enough of this precious resource to serve the more than a million residents who depend on us. Over generations, our operation of the reservoirs and our safeguarding of the water supply has not changed. What has changed is the continued development in flood plains, the increased voracity of storms and snags and other debris hindering flows of rivers and streams in municipalities.
We have offered to help municipalities coordinate the clearing of their waterways and we are sharing information about storms with their emergency management teams. In neighboring Passaic County and other areas of the state, officials have turned to Blue Acres funding to buy homeowners out of low-lying areas and have ended development in flood-prone areas. We understand how these storms have impacted some homeowners. There are solutions."


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