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Township Looks at Brook Flooding; Residents Endure Ebb and Overflow

Matthew Hersh

Princeton Township residents affected by the regular overflow of Harry's Brook may have to continue to withstand periodic flooding for the time being.

A long standing problem for residents in the area has been exacerbated by increased residential construction and greater than normal amounts of rainfall.

Township Engineer Robert Kiser said SWM Consulting, a Ringoes-based firm, has been enlisted to study the Harry's Brook stream corridor and part of the Riverside district in which it is located to determine if the Township should consider building limitations such as impervious surface restrictions.

"What we're looking at is future development in the Harry's Brook and Riverside areas and we want to make sure we can minimize additional runoff from new construction," he said. According to Mr. Kiser, "new construction" entails knocking down smaller homes and rebuilding larger homes, or major additions to existing homes.

"There has been more rain this year, so I'm not surprised that they're experiencing more problems," he said.

Mr. Kiser said the study will not address existing problems.

But Olivia Applegate of Random Road said it is the existing problems that need to be addressed. She said that because most of the storm water flows out of central Princeton into Harry's Brook, Township residents downstream receive the brunt of the impact.

"We have seen it become more severe over the years as additional development has taken place," she said.

Ms. Applegate also cited the lack of impervious surfacing restrictions in the Borough, and increased rainfall as reasons for the flooding.

"Next time you're in the Borough, and you're wondering 'where's all the water going?', you put a bottle with my name on it and I'll probably fish it out of my back yard," she quipped.

Ms. Applegate said that the flooding "easily affects 50 homes" around the confluence of Harry's Brook and the north branch tributary of the brook.

Harry's Brook originates under the aptly-named Spring Street in the Borough. Passers-by will recall the "Spring Street Pond" that formed when garage construction began. That phenomenon was largely understood to be Harry's Brook peeking out above ground level.

The brook then travels along Hamilton Avenue, Rollingmead Street and Littlebrook Road until ultimately connecting with Lake Carnegie, which is the site of current DOT construction of the new Harry's Brook Bridge.

Ms. Applegate said that the brook typically floods when there is a rainfall of 2.5 inches or more. She said that since the drought broke earlier this year, the brook has flooded four times, most recently on November 19, when the Princeton area received approximately two and a half inches of rain.

She said properties in that region are subjected to sudden flood areas approximately 300 feet wide and that water has left flood marks several feet high.

Mr. Kiser said that houses have not experienced structural damage as a result of the flooding.

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