FEMA Grants Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission $260 Million

By Briana Vannozzi

Rebuilding to the tune of $260 million. It’s the largest mitigation grant FEMA has ever issued through the Public Assistance Program. The Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission (PVSC) which calls Newark home and treats water for some 48 north Jersey communities, is still trying to get back on it’s feet after the destruction of Sandy’s storm surge.

“The PVSC was actually operationally destroyed during Sandy and so many billions of tons of raw sewage went into our rivers into the Passaic River particularly,” Rep. Bill Pascrell.

Pascrell’s district represents those neighborhoods that were left without clean drinking water during the plant’s shut down. He says it took workers six days to restore the treatment facility and several months before it was fully functional. The federal funds will go toward building a new flood protection system.

“If we don’t get federal money that means it goes to the rate payers or those towns who belong to PVSC that would be horrible. It would be a lot of money out of people’s pockets and what did they do to deserve that,” said Pascrell.

Today, the Department of Environmental Protection, which will help oversee the project, gave some detail about the plans. Among other things a flood wall will be built around the entire 152-acre plant designed to prevent tidal and storm surges. An on site power plant will guard against other long-term outages and pump stations and drainage infrastructure will be added.

“With this FEMA funding, we will see the necessary tidal and flood surge protections and stand-by power alternatives which will stem the risk of service disruption during extreme weather events. We’re eager for the projects to get started,” stated DEP Spokesperson Bob Considine.

Reached by phone today a representative for the PVSC said a lot of the rebuilding efforts at the plant and surrounding areas will be Katrina-like many years ahead of petitioning FEMA for more aid.

“We are trying to look for a long term remedy because we know the surge from the Hackensack River was the reason why it was destroyed the facilities were destroyed,” said Pascrell.

DEP estimates the project will take anywhere from five to seven years to be complete, but once it’s done this plant will be able to stand up to floods that surpass Sandy, which is good news in the event that these superstorms do become the new normal.