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Release Date: September 23, 2011

Elmsford Village Trustee Bill Zimkin shared a great idea with me that I think could help address flooding problems on both the Saw Mill River and Bronx River. I will be reaching out to state and county officials and will ask that this suggestion be seriously considered. We need to clean the debris from the river. This won't stop flooding but could cut down on the frequency of flooding and help prevent floods during minor storms.

Some great suggestions.... (REMINDER: Town Board will discuss flooding with our hazardous mitigation consultant this Tuesday at 9:30 AM at Town Hall. Our meeting will be broadcast live on the website: www.greenburghny.com



Here are my suggestions of actions that I believe will make a positive difference and they don’t require any engineering.

No matter what all of the studies come up with, the basic fact is that the river and river beds need to be cleaned up.  There is so much debris - trees, tires, shopping carts, etc. - that the water flow is impeded and in some cases diverted to a path of flooding areas that don't usually flood.  No matter what the engineers come up with, I believe they will start with cleaning up the river and river beds.

If the State partners with all of the affected municipalities, I believe that will be much cheaper and faster than having an independent company do the project.  I can't speak on behalf of the Cities, Towns or Villages but I believe they will all be willing to participate.

Example:  The Town of Greenburgh uses its DPW personnel to clean up the river and river beds that go thru the Town , Mt. Pleasant does the same etc.  The Villages and Cities can also get involved in the process.  The State can get involved by helping with the cost of the project by helping with granting all or partial financing for the workers and equipment.   If special equipment is needed for some problem areas, it can be purchased and shared by all municipalities.  The County and Feds with FEMA can also partner with the project.

Hear is an oversimplified analogy:

When your house gutters are clogged or getting to that point you clean them to avoid flooding in your home.  The Saw Mill River is the gutter for our area.  (The Bronx River has the same problems)

This will not solve our flooding problems but it will help.  When you build in or near a flood plain and do little to no maintenance, ( no intent meant to diminish the work and efforts that has been in the Yonkers and other areas) the result is our present problem.  The businesses, the home owners and the local residents will actually see some action as the cleanup project is moving foreword and not hear about studies of unaffordable projects.

This will be faster and cheaper than the bidding process. The documents, permits, bonding and oversights for a project like this would be massive and very costly.

The State, the DEC, the Corps of Engineers and whoever else is involved with confusing something as simple as maintenance, should allow this project to proceed and help financially. I'll bet the municipalities will all be happy to participate. 

A coordinated and well timed effort is needed.  My suggestion would be to do the project in the spring, after the winter thaw and before August when hurricane season starts.  After the initial project is done,  this should become a annual maintenance program of each community.  Financial aid should also become annual unless the State wants to take on the total responsibility.

With that said, the second project that needs to be done is a little more involved but manageable, but now that we spent the first year on phase one we have had a year to think about phase two.

Some fifty years ago when I was a very young teenager you could actually go swimming in some areas of the Saw Mill River and run around splash water in other areas.  Many fished some of the deep areas also.

The River has filled in with silt, run off etc.  It is actually shallower than it once was in many areas.  The river bed needs to be dredged of all the buildup.  I know that is not a new idea but as the river gets shallower the flood level and flood plain keeps getting expanded. 

I believe we can come up with a plan that involves the Municipalities again to achieve this goal.  They might have to temporarily employ more people to help with the project but that is a good thing, cheaper than the cost of the massive contract document for a project of this size and nature. 

Town by Town and Village by Village and City by City, individually doing the same work it is like a lot of small coordinated projects.  These small projects will need a coordinated effort with disposal of the silt but with a little coordination and assistance from the State, County and Feds, I think we can manage this project well.

With both of those projects complete, the flooding will be better but it will still happen.  None of us have the money or real-estate to make it go away.  With a river flowing unimpeded we will have an environmentally friendly and cleaner river with less flooding.  The coordinated storm water run off project is also helping with the river being cleaner.

Thank you for your time and listening to my recommendations. The residents need to see action.  I think my ideas will help. 

Bill Zimkin

Trustee, Village of Elmsford

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