Gov. Murphy and NJDEP Propose New Inland Flood Protection Rule for New Jersey –

Gov. Phil Murphy and Commissioner of Environmental Protection Shawn M. LaTourette recently announced their intent to propose an Inland Flood Protection Rule to better protect New Jersey communities from worsening riverine flooding and stormwater runoff. The rule would update the state’s existing flood hazard and stormwater regulations by replacing outdated precipitation estimates with modern data that accounts for observed and projected increases in rainfall.

The proposed rule was developed in response to the devastating impacts of extreme rainfall events, which are expected to continue to intensify in their frequency and severity, faced by an increasing number of New Jersey residents. The rule would better define areas at the most significant risk and help ensure that new and reconstructed assets in these flood-prone areas are properly suited to manage current and anticipated levels of rainfall, runoff, and flooding over their lifetime. If adopted, the updated standards would apply to new or reconstructed assets but not to existing development.

Rainfall data used in existing DEP rules was computed only through 1999 and current flood maps that reflect prior flooding patterns are outdated, as well.

“While many floodplains are mapped by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state government,” the DEP noted, “existing flood maps are based on past conditions and do not account for changing conditions such as increasing precipitation intensity. In some cases, flood mapping may not even be available in areas that now routinely flood.”

Under the two primary components of the rule, habitable first-floor elevations mapped by the state DEP will be raised by two feet, and FEMA flood map elevations will increase by three feet. Certain permit applications will require the use of future projected precipitation data when calculating flood elevations and peak flow rates of streams and rivers under the Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:13), or when a proposed development triggers compliance with NJDEP’s Stormwater Management rules (N.J.A.C. 7:8).

The formal rule proposal was published in the New Jersey Register on Dec. 5, 2022, followed by a 60-day public comment period. For more information on the Inland Flood Protection Rule and what it means for you, please contact Finelli Consulting Engineers at (908) 835-9500.

 

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