Dawn Zimmer on Hoboken flooding
Has Zimmer done anything about Hoboken flooding in 5 years?
Dawn said (back in 2008) we need four pumps to resolve the flooding. She was elected in 2007 and it begs the question why hasn’t she worked on getting all 4 pumps installed?
She specifically said we need open space, especially the SW6 park project – to help “mitigate flooding” and we need four pumps.
She said she wouldn’t let the pump installation process be “derailed by politicians” any longer.
So why didn’t she follow through on the pumps and 6 acres of open space?
Incompetence? Laziness? Too busy working on bike lanes and doing photo-ops?
Or maybe the real reason is that these were just campaign lies to get people to vote for her. Things that make you go “Hmmmm…”
See original interview below:
Dawn Zimmer talks about Hoboken flooding
During last year’s 4th Ward Council Election, “Flooding” was a very big campaign topic. Many promises, and “calls for action” were made during that time. As well all know, Dawn Zimmer emerged victorious in that election, and Hoboken411 wanted to know what is the current status with the flooding situation in Hoboken.
So I asked Dawn a few questions this week. Here are her complete responses:
1. The pumps were in the news back in March, along with their eventual installation in 2010 (or 2012)… Will these pumps completely alleviate the flooding in Hoboken?
Dawn: According to all the experts I’ve spoken to, including engineers from CH2MHill, North Hudson Sewerage Authority, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (a state agency that is now reviewing our City’s pump plan), and experts from top-level engineering schools, the pumps are the best long-term solution available to Hoboken. Once all four pumps are operational, our flooding problem should be significantly reduced. Infrequent flooding could still occur if an exceptionally severe storm occurs at high tide, but the regular flooding that we experience now should be a thing of the past.
While each pump, as it comes on line, will help alleviate the problem somewhat, all four pumps are needed for the system to be fully effective. The analysis for the pumps is based on SWIMM models (engineering models that measure water levels in our sewer system) that were completed about 10 years ago. EmNet, a company that developed CSONet flood abatement technology, has offered to help Hoboken update our understanding of our system with an eye toward maximizing the effectiveness of each pump as it comes on line. They are currently reviewing information provided by North Hudson Sewerage and CH2MHill to determine whether their technology may be able to help us. If the answer is yes, they have offered to provide Hoboken with an analysis free of charge, using grant money available to them from the State of Indiana.
I believe that EmNet’s technology has the potential to help us see the benefit from the pumps more quickly, and to help us ensure that the pumps are deployed as effectively as possible. I want to thank Mayor Roberts, Mayor Turner, Councilman and Assemblyman Ramos and Executive Director Pocci of North Hudson Sewerage for putting politics aside and working with me to explore the potential of EmNet’s technology.
2. What are the interim solutions that are planned, especially in the “flooding zones?”
Dawn: Unfortunately, there do not appear to be any easy interim solutions that will make a meaningful difference. Until the pumps are installed, we will likely flood whenever we get severe rain at high tide. The CSONet technology could potentially help us see quicker results from the pumps, and that’s probably our best hope in the short term. In the meantime, we need to improve the City’s response when flooding does occur. I’ve spoken with the Police about re-routing traffic when flooding is anticipated, and those discussions are ongoing. We are working to ensure that catch basins are cleaned more regularly, but unfortunately, that will not prevent flooding at high tide. Stevens Institute of Technology students have been working on a class project to help the City try to develop interim solutions. Hopefully, when their work has been completed, we’ll have some new ideas that could help us.
3. What if these pumps (when installed) don’t help whatsoever? What are the contingency plans? Has anyone given that any thought?
Dawn: As I explained above, the experts I’ve spoken to all seem to agree that the pumps will make a significant difference. Nevertheless, pumps or no pumps, we still live in a City with many areas below sea level, so it makes sense to do everything we can to reduce the pressure on the system. The following are ideas that I believe we should implement, both as individuals and as a community.
Expand park space:
Parks are more “flood friendly” than development. By creating more open space we help alleviate the flooding. As the SW6 plan demonstrates, parks can be designed specifically to help reduce flooding.
LEED certification requirements for new development:
If I had my way, we’d require all new development located in redevelopment zones or receiving height or density variances, to follow all the storm water management practices required by the highest level of LEED certification, such as recycling grey water (water that comes from the sink and reusing it for the toilet).
This is probably not politically possible given the substantial costs this would involve for developers, but I will work with my council colleagues to see if there’s a formula we can all agree on.
Use Technology to Capture Storm Water:
All of us should do everything we can to prevent storm water from going into our combined sewage system. Even residents that live in areas of Hoboken that never flood could help by trying to capture their storm water before it goes into the sewers. Here are some ideas that I am looking into:
Rain barrels: Instead of using water from my hose, I am going to install rain barrels on my roof and in front of my house to capture the rainwater from my storm pipes before it goes into the sewer system.
My gesture may seem fruitless, but imagine if everyone in Hoboken that has deck gardens or small front and back gardens used rain barrels? I’m purchasing two 80-gallon rain barrels. Say possibly 1,000 people tried to do the same thing….together we’d be stopping 160,000 gallons of storm water from going down into the sewer system.
To find out more check out the following sites:
Rain gardens: I’m in touch with a professor from Stockton College who has designed rain gardens for businesses in South Jersey that had problems with parking lots that regularly flooded. He’s willing to come and do a pilot rain garden in Hoboken.
Green roofs: Green roofs can capture anywhere from 60 to 75 percent of rainwater. Again, we need to either require this for new development, or give strong incentives to ensure that new development implements this technology.
I am also exploring the feasibility of adding green roofs to existing buildings, starting with my own home. One expert told me it is just not realistic because extra support needs to be built into a structure to plan for a green roof. However, another person told me that there’s new technology for extremely lightweight soil, so it may be possible. If it is feasible, I’d like to create incentives to encourage buildings to make the investment.
The best way to encourage people to try out new storm water technology would be to offer tax incentives, but unfortunately, our budget difficulties make that approach unrealistic. I’m continuing to look into this one.
4. What are some of the roadblocks you’ve encountering with making progress moving this (and any other) plan forward?
Dawn: As many of you know, the idea of installing pumps to alleviate the flooding is not new. They’ve been discussed for years, especially during election campaigns. Deals with New Jersey Transit and North Hudson Sewerage were announced, but somehow always fell through. Just recently, it was discovered that problems existed with every one of the sites where the pumps were supposed to be located, due to the failure of the City and North Hudson Sewerage to keep each other informed as to development plans. For example, a pump was planned in the area where Pier C Park is being built, and North Hudson Sewerage claims that no one advised them that a park would be constructed there. Other problems involve coordinating with Toll Brothers on construction they plan near one of the pump sites, and obtaining an easement from the Applied Companies (by agreement or eminent domain) for another site. In several cases, meetings were held concerning these issues but no written record was kept, and the participants seem to remember things differently.
I have asked Steve Kleinman, our City attorney to work with North Hudson Sewage to secure written agreements from all parties involved with the site plans for each pump, to make sure there are no further misunderstandings later that could slow down or derail the process.
Hoboken411 readers should keep in mind that they can help with moving the pump plan along by calling 1-877-WARN-DEP when it rains and they see evidence of sewage backup. (Like the turd one 4th Ward resident told me he witnessed floating back up out of the sewer). The NJ DEP has given North Hudson Sewage a $7 million grant, and they are currently considering a $29 million no-interest loan for the other pumps. The more we let them know what’s happening in Hoboken, the more we move ourselves to the top of their priority list.
Lastly, I want to mention that the CSOnet technology idea originated from research by a concerned resident, Ed Friedrich. Hopefully the technology will turn out to be something that can help Hoboken, but regardless, his efforts show how community involvement can help to solve some of the issues facing our town.
Thanks again to Hoboken 411 for giving me a chance to update people on this issue.
4th Ward Councilwoman