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Public Input Wanted on Strategies to Protect Back Bay Areas from Storms



TRENTON- The Department of Environmental Protection is partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to host a meeting next week to gather input on a comprehensive study that will evaluate ways to better protect back bays and other tidal coastal areas from storms and flooding.

The Army Corps of Engineers and DEP are launching the three-year Back Bays Flood Risk Management feasibility study to assess a wide range of structural and non-structural approaches to mitigate the impacts of storm surge and flooding from estuaries and other coastal water bodies. The meeting will be Thursday, December 1 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Campus Center at Stockton University in Galloway Township, Atlantic County.


"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been a strong partner in making New Jersey safer, stronger and more resilient," DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said. "This back bay study process is an important component of the Christie Administration's comprehensive strategy to protect lives, property and infrastructure in our coastal communities, which are so important to the state's economy and identity."


The $3 million study was authorized by Congress and is being cost-shared by the DEP and federal government. Once the three-year study is completed, the Army Corps will issue a decision document with a recommended plan. After the plan is approved by Congress, design and construction will occur as funding is made available.  The study was developed out of the Army Corps' North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study, which was undertaken after Superstorm Sandy slammed the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast in October 2012.


The study area encompasses 950 square miles and nearly 3,400 miles of bays, rivers, creeks, lagoons, coastal lakes and other tidal shorelines in Atlantic, Burlington, Cape May, Ocean and Monmouth counties.


Strategies that are being explored include structural solutions such as storm surge barriers, tide gates, levees, floodwalls and drainage improvements. Also being evaluated are ecosystem-based solutions such as marsh restoration, beach and dune restoration, and creation of living shorelines, which are areas planted with native marsh grasses and shellfish to provide natural flood buffers.


"We strongly encourage the public, local officials and all stakeholders to attend this meeting to learn more about this important framework for the future," said David Rosenblatt, DEP's Assistant Commissioner for Engineering and Construction. "We recognize that protection of back bay and other tidal areas is not going to be a one-size-fits-all proposition, and that, in fact, multiple integrated strategies may be most appropriate in any given community or adjoining communities."


The general public and other stakeholders are invited to provide feedback, help identify significant issues, and learn about the overall study process and status during the meeting at the Stockton University Campus Center, 101 Vera King Farris Drive, Galloway, N.J. 08205.


The meeting will take place in the theater, which is on the main level of the Campus Center. Free parking is available directly in front of the Campus Center at lots 2 and 3.


The Army Corps and DEP previously held workshops at Ocean County College and Stockton University to introduce the study to stakeholders and solicit initial input.


The DEP has worked closely with the Army Corps in constructing a statewide system of engineered beaches and dunes as well as flood-control projects for coastal communities and inland waterways.


In response to Sandy, the DEP is financing projects that harden water and wastewater infrastructure, while also moving willing homeowners from flood-prone areas, conducting pilot studies of saltmarsh restoration projects, implementing stricter elevation standards for houses built or rebuilt in coastal areas, and developing a major project to protect the Hudson River waterfront.


For more information, visit: http://www.nap.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/New-Jersey-Back-Bays-Coastal-Storm-Risk-Management/


For more information on DEP's Engineering and Construction program, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/ec/