At Monday’s press conference at the State House, environmental advocates urged the state Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to adopt a new set of rules that governs how developers will build on inland regions that flood easily.
They called for an immediate moratorium on new developments until these rules are adopted by the NJDEP.
Development upstream from Manville and other inland areas has resulted in intense flooding in urban areas, causing backups of raw sewage in homes, public health concerns, and environmental justice issues in densely populated New Jersey.
The Inland Flood Protection rule would ensure that areas of the most significant risk are better defined, and new development would be built using updated precipitation data instead of the 120-year-old, outdated models currently employed.
Climate change has increased rainfall rates, even in the last 25 years, and the new Inland Flood Protection rules would use more accurate rainfall and flooding predictions instead of relying on outdated historic models.
The new rules, which were proposed in December, may take about one year before they are adopted. That is problematic, according to speakers at Monday’s event.
Development applications are coming into DEP under the old rule, “so no one has to design to these new standards until these new rules are adopted,” said Mike Pisauro, Policy Director at The Watershed Institute.
The agency is holding a virtual public hearing on Wednesday afternoon (Jan. 11) and the public comment period continues until Feb. 3.