Hearing the pleas of local officials and their constituents devastated by the flooding that followed Hurricane Irene, Governor Chris Christie has announced that he has ordered the reservoirs to be lowered in advance of Hurricane Sandy to mitigate any potential flooding.
Hurricane Sandy, called a 'Frankenstorm' because of its unique characteristics, has been described by weather services as a cross between a hurricane and a winter storm, packing the potential to deliver a minimum of 4-5 inches of rain with 30-40 mile per hour winds.
The reservoirs that will be lowered are the Woodcliffe Lake-Lake Tappan-Oradell Reservoir system operated by United Water in Bergen County; the Charlottesburg Reservoir, operated by the City of Newark; the Wanaque Reservoir operated by the North Jersey Water Supply District; and the Boonton Reservoir operated by Jersey City.
“These actions are necessary due to the potentially unprecedented nature of the storm that is heading our way,” Governor Christie said. “A great deal of rainfall is expected which could cause major flooding, so we are taking every step we can to try to mitigate the potential flooding that could occur.”
“New Jersey’s reservoirs are designed to provide water, not for flood control,” DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said. “But given the situation, we decided we needed to get as much water out of the reservoir systems as possible, creating void space for runoff from the storm.”
According to Martin, the reservoirs will be drawn down over a period of about 20 to 30 hours. Releases will be stopped well in advance of heavy rains, which will give the released water ample time to pass through the downstream river systems.
New Milford Mayor Ann Subrizi, District 38 legislators Senator Robert Gordon, Assemblywoman Connie Wagner and Assemblyman Timothy Eustace sent letters to Christie Friday urging him to lower the reservoirs in advance of the storm. Teaneck urged residents near the Hackensack River to take precautions ahead of the storm.
The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is coordinating with local Offices of Emergency Management to prepare for any evacuations that may become necessary.