BY JERRY DEMARCO
The General Assembly in Trenton approved bipartisan legislation this week that would create the Bergen-Rockland Bistate River Commission to develop a coordinated flood management and prevention plan between the neighboring counties.
An accompanying law is currently being discussed in committee in the New York Legislature and has yet to be put up for a vote.
The measure creates an 18-member commission that would, in the wording of the bill “facilitate the cooperation of governments in New Jersey and New York to protect the streams flowing south from Rockland County into Bergen County[,] including the Hackensack River, Sparkill Brook/Creek, Saddle River, Ramapo/Mahwah River and their tributaries and communities that are prone to flooding.”
“After suffering through the wettest year ever recorded in New Jersey, we need a common-sense approach to managing waterways that will protect our residents’ homes,” said Assemblyman Bob Schroeder of Washington Township. “This approach will make sure everyone is working together on this issue in an inclusive way.
“We have been fighting flooding problems along our streams and reservoirs for years and they only seem to be getting worse for residents and businesses,” added fellow Republican Assembly member Charlotte Vandervalk, who’s also from Bergen. “Both states must work together to manage streams and mitigate the devastating impacts of floods because overflowing water knows no boundaries.
“Communities in both Bergen and Rockland counties face flooding problems and our bill gets everyone working together on a comprehensive plan to prevent the flooding of these regional waterways.”
Elected officials in both states would appoint the commissioners, whose duties would include “coordinating a comprehensive plan to remediate existing hazards, assessing potential development that could impact the waterways and coordinating environmental cleanup, maintenance and protection efforts.”
Jerry Demarco is the editor of Bergen County, NJ-based internet news provider www.cliffviewpilot.com and is a former Rockland County journalist