I read with interest Councilman Christopher Campos' letter on the flooding problems in the Fourth Ward. The Councilman is correct that flooding in these areas has been a chronic problem for decades, and now is the right time to solve this problem once and for all. As Chairman of The North Hudson Sewerage Authority, I have assured Councilman Campos that the Authority welcomes his involvement and assistance in this cause.
The Fourth Ward is a problem area. It is the lowest point below sea level in a city that is mostly below sea level. Thus this area is vulnerable to flooding when heavy rains combine with high Hudson River tides. For example, in the most recent heavy rain incidents, the tide of the Hudson River was approximately seven feet above sea level, while the corner of Jackson and Fourth Streets is only three feet above sea level - hence, the flooding as the excess four feet of water backed onto the streets.
The Authority has done a great deal - but I acknowledge that Councilman Campos is right to say not enough yet - to address this problem.
We have required all new large developments in this area to install detention systems to ensure that they do not add to the flow during peak periods.
We are rehabilitating sewers and catch basins throughout Hoboken. Southwest Hoboken is not yet completed because we are awaiting NJ Transit's construction of a new trunk line under Observer Highway to connect the Southwest area to our newly completed Hudson River outfall.
We have undertaken a series of comprehensive studies on the problem in Southwest Hoboken. The Authority's plan is to install in-line pump wet weather stations that are designed to overcome the high tides which are the cause of flooding in this area. We have the funds on hand, and we have applied for the permits from the Army Corp of Engineers and NJDEP.
The cost of dealing with the southwest Hoboken problems (flooding and CSO issues, the latter mandated by the State) is approximately $40 million ($3 million for the in-line pump station; $12 million for the rehab of the sewer lines; $20 million of the new Observer Highway trunk line; and $5 million for the new outfall.) The Authority is footing the bill for half of this amount which it is paying for primarily through grants and low-interest State revolving fund loans. NJ Transit is committed to pay for the $20 million Observer Highway trunk line, but the monies were pulled from the last two State budgets.
We are concerned that, without the funding appropriated for the Observer Highway trunk line, the full solution to the Southwest area's problems cannot be implemented. Therefore, we welcome Councilman Campos' attention on this issue, since it may spur the State Legislature to make the funds available for the new trunk line. We look forward to working with the Mayor, Councilman Campos and his colleagues to finally solve a problem that has bedeviled the Fourth Ward for generations.
Richard J. Wolff, Chairman
North Hudson Sewerage Authority