The Passaic River Coalition (PRC) was launched in 1969 and incorporated in 1971 to advocate for more appropriate methods of minimizing, mitigating and reducing damages from flooding using environmentally sound approaches. In fifty-five years, that focus has never changed, but we now address many additional water and environmental resource issues, as guardians of the Passaic River Basin. (See more about the Basin). The PRC assists municipalities, non-profit organizations, neighborhood associations, individuals, and diverse communities in urban, suburban and rural areas. See more on our current initiatives on our Initiatives page.
Our initiatives underscore the importance of public education, outreach, advocacy, and volunteer involvement to address critical environmental issues affecting natural resources, health and quality of life in the Passaic River Basin. The Passaic River Coalition believes that a healthy, just and economically sound society requires protection of water resources and proper attention to how people are affected by these resources.
PRC’s visionary programs demonstrate and promote a deep understanding of the watershed. We’ve led important initiatives to protect drinking water, preserve sensitive wildlife habitat, improve water quality, create new open space, and promote natural flood control management.
PRC relies on a dedicated Board of Trustees, professional staff, and volunteers. We work closely with our decision-making audiences establishing strong partnerships among industry, government, non-profit organizations and citizens to maintain an adequate financial support to achieve our mission.
Our Accomplishments: Major Past Initiatives
The Passaic River Coalition has been a major force in seeking natural alternatives and cost-effective solutions to reduce flooding damages. Getting people out of harm’s way and restoring the floodway to provide flood storage and natural cleansing functions is a win-win situation. We were instrumental in advocacy leading to creation and passage of the Blue Acres Program in 1995, securing $15 million for the acquisition of residential structures located within floodways, as well as catalyzing the renewal of the program with $12 million as part of the 2007 Garden State Preservation Trust refunding bond act. The PRC has worked with Little Falls Township to acquire and demolish a number of homes that were repeatedly flooded, creating riverside parkland that has been landscaped with assistance from the River Network and Anheuser Busch company and employees. We also successfully fought to have Congress reject a massive construction project, the flood tunnel, and we have pushed for more environmentally-sustainable approaches.
PRC has advocated for the creation of new surface supply systems such as the 1987 Monksville Reservoir and the development of three New Jersey Statewide Water Supply Plans (1982, 1996 and 2017). PRC assisted in plans to restore Greenwood Lake, which contributes flow to the Monksville Reservoir. We fought projects to send untreated Raritan River water into the Upper Passaic River in the 1980s.
For decades, we have advocated for improved public access to the Lower Passaic River, forming the Passaic River Restoration Project in the early 1980s with municipalities from Harrison to Garfield on the east bank. Three plans were developed in the 1980s and updated in 2015, leading to many local projects to preserve, improve and expand riverfront parks. We also helped support Congressional authorization of the Joseph G. Minish Passaic River NJ Waterfront Park and Historic Area in Newark, implemented in phases by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Recognizing that public access to a highly polluted river was not ideal, the PRC has advocated for the cleanup of the Lower Passaic River regarding everything from debris from derelict docks and boats to the Lower Passaic River Superfund Site created primarily by dioxin from the Diamond Shamrock facility in Newark. The PRC has been represented on the Superfund Community Advisory Group for decades. The PRC also has been actively engaged since the 1980s in efforts to reduce combined sewer overflows into the Passaic River from Paterson, Newark and other Lower Passaic towns.
In the area of groundwater management, in 1980, PRC established the Ground Water Protection Committee as a collaboration of municipal, regional and investor-owned water utilities. The Committee and PRC obtained federal recognition for the Buried Valley Sole Source Aquifer system of the central Passaic (1980) and of the Highlands Sole Source Aquifer (1987). We published seminal studies on the water resources, contamination and protection of the Buried Valley Aquifer system. The Committee and PRC also created and advocated for a Well-Head Protection Program to keep groundwater hazards out of municipal wells, and we were lead environmental advocates for the 1986 underground storage tank law.
In 1993, PRC created a Land Trust to acquire properties of ecological significance and unique landscape character for water resource protection. The PRC acquired nearly 1,600 acres of dedicated open space that will NEVER be developed. Some of these properties have since been transferred to municipal, county and state agencies for management, leaving 1,200 acres under PRC management. Many of these parcels have become sites for passive recreation like hiking or birding, outdoor research areas for students and scientists, and places for threatened and endangered species to find sanctuary. Our largest preserved lands include Emerald Forest in West Milford Township; Russia Brook Sanctuary in Jefferson, Hardyston and Sparta Townships; and Tory Tract and Waterview in Ringwood Borough.