flooded street nj

Reforms Introduced to Combat Coastal Flooding & Climate Change

The Murphy administration today announced its intent to change a suite of DEP regulations in the effort to better protect New Jersey communities from coastal flooding, sea-level rise, and other public health and safety risks that are increasing due to climate change, according to a press release issued by the governor’s office.

The forthcoming rule proposal, known as REAL – Resilient Environments and Landscapes – reforms, will make New Jersey the first state in the nation to initiate what the administration calls a comprehensive update of land resource protection regulations to address the current and future impacts of a changing climate.

“A product of scientific study and robust stakeholder engagement, the REAL reforms reflect the best available climate science specific to New Jersey and will better protect homes and businesses from current and future climate threats, including sea-level rise, extreme weather, and chronic flooding,” Murphy said.

DEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette commented, “The REAL reforms will provide property owners, investors, and the public with the tools necessary to build more resilient communities while improving environmental quality and flood protection, especially in neighborhoods most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.”
However, Ray Cantor, deputy chief of government affairs for the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, commented that while the association is supportive of resiliency measures to protect the citizens and businesses of New Jersey, “we are disappointed that DEP is continuing to rely on information from outdated and inaccurate studies which will result in more costs and burdens for all. Specifically, the proposed stormwater requirements will significantly reduce development potential.

“This is a complex 1,200-page proposal . We look forward to studying all its implications and submitting comments once all of its impacts are understood,” Cantor said.

A formal rule proposal is expected to be published in the New Jersey Register in July. Upon publication of the proposal, a 90-day public comment period will commence. Three public hearings will be announced upon publication. A courtesy copy of the REAL proposal is available at dep.nj.gov/njreal/. Four webinars are scheduled for the public to hear about the proposed rule.

An extensive public engagement and stakeholder process is underway to ensure public input on the proposal, which was developed with a focus on investing in communities and their long-term economic viability while protecting current landscapes and developments for future generations.

Four webinars are scheduled for the public to learn more about the proposed rulemaking:

Session 1: Sea Level Rise & Inundation Risk Zone

9:30 to 11 a.m. Monday, May 20

Microsoft Teams: Click here to join the meeting

Phone (audio only): 1-856-338-7074, use conference ID 152 933 236#

Session 2: Environmental Enhancements

11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 22

Microsoft Teams: Click here to join the meeting

Phone (audio only): 1-856-338-7074, use conference ID 626 469 920#

Session 3: Coastal Climate Protection

2 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, May 23

Microsoft Teams: Click here to join the meeting

Phone (audio only): 1-856-338-7074, use conference ID 940 915 513#

Session 4: Stormwater

10 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 29

Microsoft Teams: Click here to join the meeting

Phone (audio only): 1-856-338-7074, use conference ID 610 015 833#

The proposed updated standards would apply to certain new construction and redevelopment activities, with specific provisions for coastal areas that will be subject to periodic flooding in the future as coastal storms increase in intensity, as well as areas that will be subject to permanent inundation as sea levels rise. Existing developments would not be impacted. Pending development projects would also not be affected if the developer submitted applications to the department that are complete for review prior to adoption of final rules.

The three primary flood protection components of the proposed rule would:

  • Create an “Inundation Risk Zone.” This new zone encompasses land currently above sea level likely to be inundated either permanently or twice daily during high tides over the life of proposed development. New or improved residential buildings, critical buildings, and critical infrastructure will be required to account for the increased flood risk.
  • Adjust tidal flood hazard areas. Using the best available New Jersey-specific sea-level rise data, the rule establishes the “climate adjusted flood elevation” to reflect the likely increase to five feet above current sea level by the end of the century.
  • Align with the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) minimum standards. The proposed new rules ensure that department permit standards or authorizations for a site are as protective as federal standards, as established in each community’s rule or floodplain ordinance.

For more about REAL and climate change in New Jersey, visit https://dep.nj.gov/njreal/.

To access more business news, visit NJB News Now.

Related Articles: