Seeking help to solve the contaminated flooding and dune problems, Margate residents begged for help. They reach out to local politicians and environmental organizations like Surfrider and various ‘green teams’. No response. But finally, at the last minute, help was on the way from Ventnor resident, NJ Assemblyman Chris Brown. Unfortunately, Brown’s testimony may have inadvertently helped the Army Corp of Engineers in their quest to re-start the error prone dune project.
Assemblyman Chris Brown did testify to Federal Court Judge, Renee Bumb, that ponding was the result of the state’s “ramming one-size-fits-all” onto its citizens and said the government was “more concerned with moving ahead despite knowing it’s a complete and utter failure.”
But Brown’s testimony also sided with Congressman Frank LoBiondo’s and Ventnor Commissioner Lance Landgraf’s pro-dune position. LoBiondo is the NJ congressman who pushed the Fed to pay for this project, and Landgraf is a full-time employee of the state (NJ CRDA). Former Margate Commisioner, Brenda Taube, has pro-dune background as well.
One could possibly connect the dots, and see why these local politicians support the controversial benefits of dune building and beach replenishment every three years.
Weeks Marine of Cranford NJ is one the contractors that enjoys this expensive, often un-needed work.
Note: Ventnor needed to borrow in order to pay $450,000 cost-share for making older dunes even wider and higher this year. ( as per contract )
It’s been clearly documented that most storm damage to Margate, Ventnor and Atlantic city comes from back bay surge flooding. A majority of insurance claims are filed from those affected by back bay flooding, not front ocean wave action.
Unfortunately, Assemblyman Chris Brown’s testimony may have played a substantial role in Judge Bumb’s decision.
The Federal court judge included Brown’s testimony in her written decision: Indeed, Assemblyman Chris Brown recognized that the dune system that had already been installed in Ventnor during Hurricane Sandy effectively protected the town from the bulk of the hurricane damage. He testified that not only did the dunes protect Ventnor during Hurricane, but stated “I’ll agree wholeheartedly, as courts have pointed out, the dunes certainly will serve a purpose and are an available part of mitigating storm damages. I couldn’t agree with you more.”
Judge Bumb’s Decision: At its worst, after heavy rain, the standing water measured up to thirty-six inches deep. The standing water had not percolated into the sand after over thirty-six hours, as the Army Corps had anticipated.
Testing has confirmed that, at times, the standing water contains unsafe levels of bacteria and contaminants. Direct contact with such water may cause illnesses or other ailments. That these conditions are unacceptable, to say the least, is clear. No one disputes that.
Indeed, the Army Corps conceded that it had not anticipated such extensive ponding during construction and that it is actively investigating its causes and possible solutions. Why the Army Corps did not do more before is confounding.
Army Corps engineer Schwaiger testified that a long-term solution could only be figured out after the project was completed.
Jonathan Schwaiger, the Army Corps’ professional civil engineer, testimony: Mr. Schwaiger explained that the most effective efforts to mitigate the interim ponding will involve continued construction to expand the basin and facilitate percolation of the water into the sand.
In Mr. Schwaiger’s opinion, the Army Corps can “mitigate [the ponding conditions] by continuing to build, and we could give that water some area to move.” He “is concerned that,” with the temporary restraints in place, “we have created just one localized area by stopping [construction] for storing [water], so I think that it can be mitigated.” Continued construction, along with other mitigation measures like pumping water out, is critical to avoid exacerbated and continued ponding conditions.
Editors Note: Army Corp & Weeks Marine needs to pump x-amount of sand….. in order to get paid most amount of money from congress? Effectiveness of work doesn’t seem to play a role. Thus, it makes sense why they want to keep working…even with dramatic errors / problems being caused. Immunity from lawsuits plays a major role here, as well.