State Officials Order Lowering of Woodcliff Lake Reservoir
Officials hope the reservoir will be able to lessen the severity of flooding when Hurricane Sandy hits.
Updated at 8:20 p.m.
United Water will perform a controlled release of water from the Woodcliff Lake Reservoir before Hurricane Sandy hits, state officials announced Friday night.
The release will take place over a period of 20 to 30 hours. Lake Tappan and the Oradell Reservoir will also be lowered.
"These actions are necessary due to the potentially unprecedented nature of the storm that is heading our way," Governor Chris Christie said in a press release. "A great deal of rainfall is expected which could cause major flooding, so we are taking every step we can to try to mitigate the potential flooding that could occur."
Local officials had asked the utility to consider releasing water before the so-called "Frankenstorm" hits, like they did before Hurricane Irene hit last year. Having a lower amount of water in the reservoir allows it to collect more of the storm water and prevent it from flowing directly into the Pascack Brook and alleviate flooding of local homes, according to Westwood Mayor John Birkner.
Local Office of Emergency Management officials met with United Water Friday, but the company said they would not hold a controlled release, Hillsdale Mayor Max Arnowitz told Patch.
However, the governor and the Department of Environmental Protection can tell water companies to release water. Speaking in Hillsdale Friday afternoon, Guadagno said the reservoir was "one of many issues" state officials were discussing prior to Sandy arriving in New Jersey.
Arnowitz had discussed the issue with Guadagno during her visit and Birkner met with officials from the DEP and the governor's cabinet earlier Friday.
DEP Commissioner Bob Martin noted that reservoirs are not typically used to prevent flooding. They decided to order the release due to the unusual nature of the storm, Martin said. United Water also released water from the reservoir prior to Hurricane Irene hitting last year.
Guadagno warned residents to be prepared for the storm, which she said could be "the storm of the century."
"You need to be prepared," Guadagno said. "You need to find out where you're going to go in an emergency."