Not a trick question, but say I’m holding one quart of Fairfield floodwater in my hand from Hurricane Irene ( 2011 ). It could possibly contain water that originated from how many named New Jersey Rivers ? :
A.) Only One
B.) Two to Three
C.) Four to Seven
D.) 8 or more
I think I’ll keep you in suspense for now, but remember the oft quoted saying attributed to Benjamin Franklin ? ...
"[New Jersey is like] a beer barrel, tapped at both ends, with all the live beer running into Philadelphia and New York. "
Well, think of Fairfield as a basin with two inlets at ‘both ends’. Pine Brook on the one end and Two Bridges on the other end.
First we have the ( #1 ) Passaic River entering Fairfield at Pine Brook. But also terminating in Pine Brook is the ( #2 ) Rockaway River carrying waters from Dover, Rockaway, Denville, Boonton, and Montville. And a very short distance upstream is the ( #3 ) Whippany River carrying water from Morristown and Hanover.
This I call the Southern half of the ‘Fairfield Watershed.’ A term you won’t read or hear anywhere else. The Northern half of my ‘Fairfield Watershed’ flows into Two Bridges. This is where the ( #4 ) Pompton River enters our flood basin. But the Pompton River is at the end of a large network of significant tributary rivers. The ( #5 ) Pequannock, the ( #6 ) Wanaque, the ( #7 ) Ramapo, and the ( #8 ) Mahwah Rivers ( see map below ).
That’s not bad enough. But in Singac the multi-sourced Passaic River Channel narrows creating a constraint that significantly raises these waters during heavy river flows. The waters naturally seek the lowest levels that are in Fairfield, Lincoln Park, and Wayne. Under certain conditions, the Passaic River appears to flow backwards if the flood basin is low. For instance, if most of the floodwaters come from the northern section and very little water comes from the southern section.
A Friend of mine that lives off Clinton Road told me that Hurricane Irene had the worst flooding levels that Fairfield ever endured. I was surprised when he mentioned that the Pine Brook Flood Gauge read 11 inches higher than the record holding 1903 Flood. Couldn’t be, I thought, no way it could be worse than 1903. That’s when people were being boat rescued from second floor windows in Paterson and Trenton !
Well my investigation confirmed that my Friend was correct about the Pine Brook gauge readings. However, I then checked the Little Falls Gauge recordings. These told a very different story. The Little Falls gauge ( upstream of the Peckman River so this is NOT a factor ) indicated a 1903 crest 39.7 inches higher than the crest recorded in 2011 .
It’s better not to elaborate any further on the subject of Fairfield flooding. It’s about as popular a subject as the previous one about death itself.
Hopefully the next topic will be more pleasant.
Best Always...........Paul Pollio