The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced the release of a draft report for the New Jersey Back Bays Coastal Storm Risk Management Study. The report outlines a ‘Tentatively Selected Plan’ framework, which includes three storm surge barriers, two cross-bay barriers, and the elevation of more than 18,000 structures to reduce the risk of flood damages associated with storm surge. It’s important to note that the plan is subject to change. It has not yet been approved by higher authorities, including Congress, and has not been funded for implementation at the federal or state level.
The Army Corps, in partnership with New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, is conducting the feasibility study within the New Jersey Back Bay area, defined as the network of interconnected tidal water bodies located landward of the New Jersey ocean coastline in Monmouth, Ocean, Atlantic, Burlington, and Cape May Counties. The study area includes approximately 950 square miles and nearly 3,400 miles of shoreline. The objective of the study is to investigate problems and solutions to reduce damages from coastal storm-related flooding that affects population, critical infrastructure, property, and ecosystems. Engineering and economic analyses indicate the study area could experience $1.8 billion in average annual flood damages if no action is taken.
“To better protect New Jersey’s residents, communities, and economy, we must plan and prepare today for the climate change risks of tomorrow,” said New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette. “The Back Bays study integrates years of research and presents options for protecting areas of the Jersey shore from severe storms and flooding—risks that threaten New Jersey today and that will worsen as our planet warms. As we continue to approach climate risks with the seriousness they demand, the Murphy Administration is grateful for the partnership of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and committed to engaging all New Jersey communities. We must seek and hear all voices as the Back Bay Study and other climate resilience plans take shape.”
“The potential solutions to back bay flooding are complex, but there is a clear need to consider and evaluate all options and that’s what the New Jersey Back Bays Study aims to do,” said USACE Philadelphia District Commander Lt. Col. Ramon Brigantti. “I want to thank NJDEP for their support and partnership as well the many stakeholders we’ve collaborated with throughout the study process. We look forward to continuing that dialog in the coming months.”
The study team prepared the draft Report to present findings, technical analyses, and outline the Tentatively Selected Plan. The document describes engineering, economic, social, and environmental analyses. The Tentatively Selected Plan includes the following conceptual features:
- Storm surge barriers at Manasquan Inlet, Barnegat Inlet, and Great Egg Harbor Inlet
- Cross-bay barriers along Absecon Boulevard/Route 30 in Atlantic County and along an extension of 52nd Street in Ocean City/Upper Township in Cape May County.
- Elevating 18,800 structures (including homes and businesses) in Monmouth (135 structures), Ocean (8567 structures), Burlington (66 structures) Atlantic (1491 structures), and Cape May (8579 structures) counties. (Note: there are approximately 182,000 structures in study area)
- Other non-structural measures and natural and nature-based features (such as enhancing marshes or creating living shorelines) could be added to the plan in the future.
The study is being cost-shared by the NJDEP and the Federal government. The study developed out of the Army Corps’ North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study, which was undertaken after Hurricane Sandy. In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, “The New Jersey Back Bays Draft Integrated Feasibility Report and Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement” is available for review.
The Army Corps will host virtual public meetings to discuss the report and answer questions on Sept. 20 and 21:
- September 20 from 6:00-7:30 p.m.
- September 21 from 1:00-2:30 p.m.
Note: Webinar space is limited, and it’s possible that demand could exceed capacity. Virtual meetings will be recorded and posted to the study webpage. Please email questions before or after the webinars to PDPA-NAP@usace.army.mil. The public and stakeholders are invited to provide comments by October 12, 2021. To view the report or virtual public meeting instructions, visit http://www.nap.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/New-Jersey-Back-Bays-Coastal-Storm-Risk-Management/
- Submit comments by email: PDPA-NAP@usace.army.mil
- Submit comments by mail: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Planning Division, Wanamaker Building, 100 Penn Square E. Philadelphia PA 19107