New Jersey Governor Chris Christie today announced actions to help mitigate potential flooding from Hurricane Sandy, including directing four reservoir systems in northern New Jersey to be drawn down beginning this evening and for releases to be made from Pompton Lake and Lake Hopatcong on Saturday.
“Opening these flood gates is a necessary action to help mitigate the effects of this potentially unprecedented storm that is heading our way,” said Governor Christie. “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 and provide relief to some of our communities who are often hardest hit by severe weather and flooding.”
Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin detailed the steps during a teleconference this evening with local officials.
“New Jersey’s reservoirs are designed to provide water, not for flood control,” Commissioner 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.”
The reservoirs that will be drawn down 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.
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.
The drawdown of much smaller Pompton Lake will take place around mid-day Saturday, and is expected to take five to six hours to complete. The Department of Environmental Protection will manually operate the flood gates and draw down the lake by five feet. This drawdown will end in sufficient time to allow the released water ample time to safely pass downstream communities. The gates will go back to automatic operations after the drawdown operation is completed.
Lake Hopatcong, which is a state-owned lake in Sussex County, also will be drawn down on Saturday.
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.