Construction is expected to begin in September on improving the Golden Street pumps after the Town Council approved the use of $4.2 million in federal and state funds for the project at a meeting on Tuesday.
The Sack Creek drainage basin includes 800 acres in the industrial area of town, primarily the back end where the outlets and warehouses are located, including portions of Secaucus Road, Meadowlands Parkway, and Enterprise Avenue all drain into Sack Creek.
The residential areas from County Avenue and Fifth Street to Golden Street all drain into the Golden Avenue pump station and get pumped into Sack Creek.
"At Golden, Humboldt, Minni Place and First, we have a lot of problems at times of rain," said Public Works Director Mike Gonnelli, "because they are low places and the water runs into the low basins and is pumped into Sack Creek."
Gonnelli described the flooding as a tremendous longstanding problem. He said that the improvements will triple the water removal capacity by doubling the size of the pump station and adding another pipe to pull in more water for the pump.
The town will also install tide gates at the end of Sack Creek where it empties into the Hackensack River.
"We'll be able to stop the back-up of the tide onto Golden Avenue, like happens during nor'easters," said Gonnelli. "It will protect not only the residential but the commercial areas. And the larger pumps will remove the water much more quickly."
Town officials approached Congressman Steve Rothman in 2001 for help in dealing with the flooding issue. Rothman was able to procure a $1 million grant from the federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) for use as seed money for the project. The EDA was established in 1965 to create jobs and stimulate industrial and commercial growth as part of the Public Works and Economic Development Act. Grants are also available to address economic problems caused by flooding and other natural disasters.
The remainder of the money will come from the New Jersey Infrastructure Fund, which offers the town low-interest loans that they can pay back over 20 years. They will finance them by issuing bonds.
Mayor Elwell said at Tuesday's meeting that half of the loan is interest-free, while the other half is between 4 and 5 percent, for an average of two percent interest on the loan as a whole.
Improvements throughout town
Flooding is a familiar problem for residents of Secaucus who own homes and drive on local streets. The concave-shaped town is virtually an island surrounded on all sides by the Hackensack River, Penhorn Creek, and Cromakill Creek.
A 2003 flood mitigation study performed with state-of-the-art technology showed local towns the results of possible flooding interventions.
While previous attempts to solve flooding problems were conducted by trial and error, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this time used satellite images and computer modeling to create a mathematical simulation of the Hackensack River Basin.
The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission then granted Secaucus $150,000 to upgrade the flood control system for the area around Mill Ridge Road, including Meadow Lane, and Koelle Boulevard.
A single drainage pipe in the wetlands behind the homes will bring excess water to a pump house behind the school. Previous efforts to solve the flooding with flood gates were unsuccessful because of debris that made it close to impossible to keep the gates in working order.
Another flooding area by Acorn Road and Farm Road has been addressed with the installation of a large pump and rebuilding of dykes.
"I don't know if there will ever be an end to the flooding, but this is a step in the right direction," said Gonnelli.