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Lautenberg and Menendez Urge Quick Action on Federal Assistance for Flood Protection Projects along Ramapo

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Location: Washington, DC


Lautenberg and Menendez Urge Quick Action on Federal Assistance for Flood Protection Projects along Ramapo

In a letter sent today to President Bush's budget chief, United States Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) urged the Bush administration to act quickly, and approve federal funds required to shore up flood protection projects along the Ramapo River. The lawmakers made this call for action as New Jersey moves closer to flood season this Spring.

"A shutdown or termination of the Pompton Lakes dam contract could cause a serious public safety issue, including the potential for loss of life and property…….. The Katrina disaster showed us first-hand the tragedy that can occur with dilapidated dams and floodgates. We urge you to provide the funding for this critical project before construction is terminated," wrote the lawmakers to Josh Bolten, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

"We cannot sit by and hope flooding won't happen along the Ramapo River this season. We need to act fast to ensure those who live in the vicinity are safe," said Lautenberg.

"Now is not the time for bureaucratic red tape and administrative road blocks," Menendez said. "It is imperative that we act proactively to protect the communities surrounding the Ramapo River, by installing the control flood gates as soon as possible."

The Ramapo River at Oakland flood control project consists of two construction contracts: (1) a channel modification of 5,800 feet of the Ramapo River and (2) the installation of flood control gates at the existing Pompton Lakes Dam. The channel modification contract has been completed, while the installation of the flood control gates in the Pompton Lakes Dam is in progress and slated for completion this August.

Senator Lautenberg has secured over $4.5 million in the last two years for flood control projects along the Ramapo River.

A copy of the letter sent to Mr. Bolten is attached.

Dear Director Bolten,

We are writing to you about an urgent matter of great importance to the people of Pompton Lakes, Wayne, and Oakland, New Jersey. These towns face the possibility of catastrophic flooding this spring, including the potential for loss of life and property, if the flood protection project along the Ramapo River does not immediately receive $2.5 million. We anticipate approval by the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), John Paul Woodley, Jr. of these funds and we urge a speedy confirmation by OMB. These funds will allow for the continued construction of the crucial final stage of the project: the flood control gates at the Pompton Lakes Dam.

The Ramapo River at Oakland flood control project consists of two construction contracts: (1) a channel modification of 5,800 feet of the Ramapo River and (2) the installation of flood control gates at the existing Pompton Lakes Dam. The channel modification contract has been completed, while the installation of the flood control gates in the Pompton Lakes Dam is in progress and slated for completion this August. Over the fiscal years between 2002 and 2004, $4.5 million has been reprogrammed from the Oakland project for other priority national needs with the expectation that these funds would be restored to the project in the future. Completing the existing contract on the Pompton Lakes Dam in FY06 will require an estimated $3.8 million, but only $1.3 million was provided to the Ramapo River at Oakland flood control project in the 2006 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act (P.L. 109-103). An additional $2.5 million is needed to complete the Pompton Lakes contract and to prevent shutdown or termination of the contract.

A shutdown or termination of the Pompton Lakes dam contract could cause a serious public safety issue, including the potential for loss of life and property. Flooding on two occasions has inundated Pompton Dam and upstream residents of Pompton Lakes, Wayne, and Oakland, New Jersey. Most recently, remnants of Tropical Storm Tammy, Hurricane Wilma, and other intermittent systems caused continual precipitation that saturated the Ramapo River Basin for most of October 2005. These events received national media coverage and highlighted the urgent need to complete the construction to provide much needed flood relief to the area.

The contract for the Pompton Lakes Dam at the Ramapo River at Oakland project is set to expire on March 31, 2006. If $2.5 million is not reprogrammed for this contract by that time, construction will be halted or even terminated. The Katrina disaster showed us first-hand the tragedy that can occur with dilapidated dams and floodgates. We urge you to provide the funding for this critical project before construction is terminated.

Sincerely,

FRANK R. LAUTENBERG ROBERT MENENDEZ

http://lautenberg.senate.gov/~lautenberg/press/2003/01/2006322941.html

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