Ramapo flood remediation could take place as early as 2015

Fundiing could come through FEMA or Town of Ramapo

BY MICHAEL RICONDA

SUFFERN – The Town of Ramapo is working to secure Federal Emergency Management Agency funds for a flood remediation project in the Village of Suffern, but if those funds never materialize, it will likely pursue the project itself.

A presentation and discussion of flood remediation plans on Wednesday included a discussion of funding for the $5 million siphon project. Ramapo applied for a FEMA grant to fund the project, but according to Town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence, a failure to secure the funds could mean Ramapo would bond the money itself.

“One way or another, we’re going to do something in 2015,” St. Lawrence said.. “$5 million dollars is something that is not prohibitive of a project of this nature.”

With backing from the State Department of Environmental Conservation, FEMA funding remains an option but not a certainty. A response to the town’s request is expected within the next 60 days, after which the town will likely select a remediation plan set forward by Brooker Engineering and begin a bidding process for labor almost immediately.

Brooker’s plan, which was presented to the public during the meeting, aims to relieve frequent flooding in about 140 homes which sit in the flood plain of the Mahwah River. The former site of the Tilcon Quarry, which sits about 80 feet below river level, would be fitted with a siphon system to allow the controlled diversion and release of flood waters into and out of the quarry basin for the duration of most major flooding conditions.

“Modeling that in our computer systems, we believe we can provide eight hours of relief,” Brooker Engineering’s Principal Engineer Brian Brooker said.

Brooker priced the project at anywhere between $5 million and $6 million, but also alluded to the use of private construction which could bring costs down as low as $3 million. The project is expected to take about one-and-a-half to two years to complete.

Flood relief for Suffern has been sought for years, especially by Squire’s Gate residents who often found themselves footing costly bills for flood damage and rising insurance costs. Most recently, four houses on the flood plain were damaged so severely that they were deemed uninhabitable, prompting the Town to buy out the homeowners.

Studies have occurred since the 1980s, but repeated calls for assistance by officials at all levels of government have largely gone ignored.

The project has seen consistent support from both the County Legislature and the County Executive. County Drainage Commissioner Vincent Altieri has also signaled his intention to examine the plan and, if it proves satisfactory, supporting its implementation.