Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski (D-New City) and Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern) announced legislation they sponsored creating the recently passed the Assembly. The 12-member commission will oversee water management and flood control efforts between New York and New Jersey as well as Rockland and Bergen counties and towns and villages within them. The commission's member will be drawn from both Rockland and Bergen counties.
The commission will review water control issues in the region and make recommendations to mitigate future flooding hazards between the two bordering counties. The commission is specifically charged with developing plans to alleviate recurring flood damage in the bi-state region including the watershed of the Hackensack River, Mahwah River, Ramapo River, Saddle River, and Sparkill Brook/Creek.
“Water control and flood management efforts need to be coordinated on a regional basis in order to be successful," said Assemblyman Zebrowski. "The devastation in Rockland caused by Hurricane Irene last year served as another reminder that the approaches being taken by individual municipalities is not working. We need a panel of experts to look at everything from construction projects and stream maintenance to interplay and questions surrounding releases from Lake Deforest and Lake Tappan. I am hopeful this commission will finally give Rockland residents a comprehensive, regional policy for water management and flood control.”
Assemblywoman Jaffee agreed a overall management is necesary.
"It is essential that we develop a comprehensive watershed management plan, which protects our communities from the ongoing threat of catastrophic flood damage impacting homes and businesses," said Assemblywoman Jaffee. “Over the years I have become convinced that the only way this could be achieved is with a bi state commission.”
The commission will give periodic reports and recommendations to both New York and New Jersey state governments.
Zebrowski said the commission will enable better care of the watershed to benefit residents from both states. He added it will help to protect the natural, scenic and recreational resources of Rockland County.
"We must take a holistic approach to all matters concerning water, from flood control to conservation because they all overlap," explained Ms Jaffee. “Water flows as it pleases, without regard to town, state or other municipal boundaries."