As a coastal city that is particularly vulnerable to flooding, it is critical that we continue to work on all fronts to become better prepared to withstand the more intense storms that scientists predict will result from climate change. The reality is, our earth is getting warmer, and storm surge events like Superstorm Sandy as well as heavy rain events are projected to increase in intensity and frequency.
In the 5 years since Superstorm Sandy devastated us, we have made great strides. Both as a Councilman and as Chair of the Rebuild by Design Community Advisory Group, I have worked in partnership with Mayor Zimmer in successfully securing $230 million of federal funds for a comprehensive flood protection project. I have actively supported other flood prevention measures, including the construction of resiliency parks, additional flood pumps, and more localized green solutions, such as rain gardens and green roofs.
But while we are off to a great start, there is much more to do. This plan provides a blueprint for making Hoboken more resilient and prepared for the storms of the future. I bring the experience, and skills to finish this tough job.
Complete Rebuild by Design: This project will provide state-of-the art flood protections, designed to be integrated into our urban landscape, all while preserving waterfront views and access to the waterfront. It is funded by a $230 million federal grant. Bhalla has helped shape the project, assisting in winning the federal and state permits required for it, and ensuring that community input was factored in. His knowledge and experience are essential to ensuring its completion.
Construct Resiliency Parks: New parks will be constructed with a resiliency component to significantly reduce surface water run-off and the flooding that it generates. This will be accomplished through a combination of underground detention systems that can store thousands of gallons of rainwater during storms and designing the parks themselves to absorb rainwater and reduce run-off. The new Southwest Park, actively backed by Councilman Bhalla, is New Jersey’s first resiliency park, and he will ensure that the City implements the plan for constructing a large, underground detention system retaining up to one million gallons of storm water as part of the Northwest Resiliency Park. Additionally, as part of Rebuild by Design, Ravi will move forward with a park to be constructed at 16th and Garden Street to protect against future storm surges from the Hudson River. As Mayor, Ravi will ensure our parks and open space not only enrich our lives through providing opportunities for recreation and quiet enjoyment of nature, he will turn them into major flood protection assets.
Upgrade Sewer System: Upgrading portions of the century old sewer system in strategic areas is critical to providing additional capacity for rainwater, alleviating street flooding. Bhalla will work with North Hudson Sewerage Authority to complete the sewer upgrades identified as priorities in the Rebuild by Design process, including Northwest Hoboken in the areas surrounding the Northwest Park, and on 9th Street, as well as in Southwest Hoboken.
Add Additional Flood Pumps: As Councilman, Ravi Bhalla worked with Mayor Zimmer and the North Hudson Sewerage Authority to secure the construction of two flood pumps, which have contributed to a significant reduction in Hoboken’s flooding problem. For example, the new H-5 flood pump, installed to limit flooding in the Northwest, has prevented flooding during 6 of the last 8 serious rain storms. As Mayor, he will seek two additional flood pumps as recommended in the Rebuild by Design study, working with North Hudson Sewerage Authority to ensure the lowest possible cost and only proceeding if it can be done so cost-effectively. One flood pump will be located in Northwest Hoboken to pump out water from the Northwest Park storm detention system, helping alleviate flooding in Northwest Hoboken, as well as an additional pump to reduce flooding in Southwest Hoboken near the Hoboken Housing Authority and light rail station.
Boost Green Solutions: Ravi will work with the Green Team, Shade Tree Commission and others to advance green solutions that reduce flooding. Green infrastructure, including bioswales, rain gardens, green roofs and cisterns, will be prioritized in strategic locations. He will also lead an ambitious tree-planting effort, setting a goal of 4,000 new or replantedstreet trees by 2020.
Ensure that New Development Contains Flood Controls: Bhalla will insist that any new development limits storm water runoff. This can be accomplished through the use of green infrastructure, such as permeable pavements, green roofs, rainwater harvesting and sub-surface detention systems.
Strengthen Electrical Grid: Limiting power outages is essential to reducing injuries and deaths during intense storms. Bhalla supported the installation of back-up generators at critical city facilities. Together, with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities and the Department of Energy, he will continue to promotethe municipal microgrid project, providing an alternative source of power for police, fire and other emergency services if the main power-grid fails And he will work with PSE&G to upgrade the existing transmission lines
Join Climate Mayors Coalition: With the United States pulling out of the Paris Agreement, cities from across the United States have stepped up to honor and adapt the agreement. I pledge to join this coalition, made up of over 375 Cities, and further collaborate with Mayors to reduce our own local greenhouse gas emissions and make Hoboken even more environmentally friendly..