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Steps You Can Take to Reduce Flooding in Montgomery, Plant Trees

By Lori Savron | Posted February 29, 2024


If you have experienced flooding in your basement, or the closure of local roads and bridges due to high water, then you realize the necessity to expand efforts to manage stormwater in our area and throughout the state.


Winter Storm Finn caused significant flooding in Montgomery Township on January 9 and 10. Above is a car stranded on Millstone-River Road (Route 533).


The good news is that efforts are underway to further Montgomery’s ability to reduce flooding. A special town hall meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 27 at 7 pm at the Montgomery Municipal Building (in Council Chambers) for those interested in learning more about an upcoming tree preservation ordinance — how it will impact you, and why it’s an important part of our strategy to reduce flooding. Attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions and offer feedback.


The township’s public outreach efforts are leading up to a May 1 deadline set by the State of New Jersey requiring all municipalities to establish standards for tree removal and replacement aimed to help reduce soil erosion and pollutant runoff, promote infiltration of rainwater into the soil, and protect the environment and public health and safety. Similar ordinances have already been adopted by our neighbors in Hillsborough, Princeton, and Franklin.


We are mindful that new regulations can be daunting, and Montgomery Township staff are ready to walk you through the process. Additionally, there are situations in which a homeowner can apply for an exemption — including dead, diseased, and unsafe trees. More importantly, in the context of flood prevention, we know the most beneficial value of trees is helping with stormwater management.


Studies show the presence of trees greatly aids flood prevention and property protection. Depending on age and source, one tree can absorb up to 10,000 gallons of rainwater per year – the size of a small swimming pool. Given the increasing frequency and strength of rain storms, together, as a community, we should be working to create a healthier, fuller tree canopy.


The tree ordinance is just one way towns address stormwater. Other actions are part of the state-issued MS4 permit - Municipal Separate Stormwater Systems, a Federal EPA program implemented by the state. All NJ towns must be in compliance with these regulations or face strict penalties. An example of a stormwater system is the storm drains along roadways and in parking lots, which collect water runoff from these impervious surfaces. All of that water goes to our local rivers and streams.


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Stormwater management includes measures taken to improve water quality while reducing erosion and the quantity of polluted runoff. In 1972, the federal government passed the Clean Water Act to address serious environmental and public health issues resulting from widespread polluted waterways – including the infamous event when the Cayuga River in Ohio caught fire due to industrial pollution.


Over the years, incremental steps have led states to implement regulations that trickle down to local municipalities, including Montgomery. Montgomery has always been a leader in environmental and natural resource protection and the Tree Preservation Ordinance continues in that tradition. Check the township website for more information.

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