New Jersey officials are lowering several reservoirs and lakes in preparation for excessive rainfall that is forecast to hit the state with Hurricane Sandy.
The lowering of four drinking water reservoirs and two lakes was being done to mitigate the potentially severe flooding expected next week from the storm, according to the NJ News.
The state Department of Environmental Protection said the draining of the reservoirs began Friday evening and was expected to last between 20 and 30 hours.
“New Jersey’s reservoirs are designed to provide water, not for flood control,” Commissioner Bob Martin said.
“But given the situation, we decided we needed to get as much water out of the reservoir systems as possible, creating void space for runoff from the storm,” Martin added.
The affected reservoirs include the Woodcliffe Lake-Lake Tappan-Oradell Reservoir system operated by United Water in Bergen County, the Charlottesburg Reservoir run by the city of Newark in West Milford, the Wanaque Reservoir and the Boonton Reservoir, which is run by Jersey City.
Water from Pompton Lake and Lake Hopatcong in Sussex County will be released on Saturday.
“A great deal of rainfall is expected which could cause major flooding, so we are taking every step we can to try to mitigate the potential flooding that could occur and provide relief to some of our communities who are often hardest hit by severe weather and flooding,” Gov. Chris Christie said in a statement Friday night.
The drawn downs will be halted in time for the released water to pass through the downstream rivers.
Pompton Lake will be drawn down by five feet, the statement said. It was not specified by how much the other bodies of water will be drawn down.
Along the Jersey Shore much smaller bodies of water were also being drawn down to prevent flooding.
Belmar’s Lake Como was being drained significantly in advance of the storm, something that had never happened before, the Asbury Park Press reported.
Township officials were also draining Spring Lake.
In Point Pleasant, the 21-acre Lake of the Lillies is also being drained to prevent overflow, said township police spokesman and deputy emergency management coordinator Kyle Grace.
The Hydrometeorological Prediction Center is forecasting more than a half-foot of rainfall to drench the region from Sandy early next week.
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