South River seeks funding for flood prevention project

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SOUTH RIVER–The Borough Council approved a resolution to support the South River Ecosystem Restoration and Flood Resiliency Enhancement Project.

The South River salt marsh ecosystem has been spared from direct development, it has been degraded in quality and does not provide optimal habitat for wildlife or maximum flood protection for residents, according to the council agenda for the Aug. 13 meeting.

Recent overbank events from the South River, including flooding as a result of superstorm Sandy in 2012, have caused nearly all the significant past flooding in Sayreville and South River, according to the agenda.

The South River Ecosystem Restoration and Flood Resiliency Enhancement Project aims to meet the following goals:

  • Reduce socio-economic damages to South River and Sayreville caused by storm damage, flooding and sea level rise.
  • Transform degraded wetlands to a high-quality marsh to reduce flooding and enhance fish and wildlife habitat.
  • Engage stakeholders on coastal resilience and ecological health to maximize public outreach in Raritan River Watershed.

According to Borough Administrator Jack Layne Jr., in early August the borough submitted a grant proposal for the project to the National Fish and Wildlife Association in Washington, D.C.

“This grant is an opportunity to provide funding to begin alleviating the flood challenges facing our borough. These challenges will only continue to worsen if we ignore them and this grant, in addition to other funding sources that we are exploring, will serve to begin to seriously address these challenges,” he said.

Layne said the borough is seeking $250,000 for project planning and design.

“Planning and design projects should be able to be completed in 18 months of the start of the grant. Pending the award of the grant for project planning and design, we would be eligible to receive project implementation funding that provides from $500,000 to $3 million in funding,” Layne said.

The borough’s March 2014 Strategic Recovery Planning Report identified four flood-prone neighborhoods areas — areas east of Whitehead Avenue, the entire Waterfront Revitalization District, the Ferry/Reid Street corridor and north of Reid Street. All the areas either border or are in close proximity to the west bank of the South River, according to the agenda.

For more information regarding the project, visit www.southrivernj.org/agendas/council/.

Contact Vashti Harris at [email protected].