NJDEP Adopts Inland Flood Protection Rules — Monumental Step Forward

June 6th, 2023


We are pleased to announce that the Inland Flood Protection Rules will soon be adopted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.  These long-awaited rules, pledged by Governor Murphy more than three and half years ago, will modify the state’s stormwater management and flood hazard control rules to address increases in extreme rainfall events resulting from climate change. The amendments will become effective upon publication in the New Jersey Register on July 3, 2023.

“The Watershed Institute is pleased that the state of New Jersey is acknowledging the realities of climate change and the devastating impact it has already had on our communities, businesses and environment,” says Executive Director Jim Waltman.  “We have helped lead a group of more than 30 partners in the effort to urge the governor to bring the regulations in line with current climate data.”

Together, we have taken a monumental step forward in protecting our communities from the devastating impacts of flooding. However, we must continue to press for progress and ensure the effective implementation of these vital rules. Our collective commitment to flood mitigation will strengthen New Jersey’s resilience, safeguard our economy, and protect the lives and livelihoods of all residents. 

The soon to be adopted rules update two essential land use rules:  

    • Floodplain delineation: The new rules more realistically define the boundaries of floodplains, which are the areas at risk of flooding during extreme weather events. They raise the flood elevation by two feet, acknowledging that the 100-year flood plain, as it is currently defined, is too small and does not account for decades of development and increases in rainfall and projections of greater precipitation in the future. The new rules seek to prevent development in areas that are prone to flooding, protecting people and property from risk.   
    • Stormwater management: The new rules require all new major developments to address stormwater runoff, which can contribute to flooding and water pollution, using up-to-date rainfall data and forecasts. Developers must design stormwater management systems, such as retention basins, green infrastructure, and other measures to not only account for the rainfall we currently experience but also future rainfall projections. Currently, the state uses out-of-date precipitation data from 20-plus years ago. The new rules seek to prevent developers from flooding communities and businesses downstream from their new buildings. Given that what we design, approve, and build today will exist for decades into the future, it is only prudent to design our homes, offices, stores, and places of worship to stand the test of time. 

While celebrating this milestone, it is crucial to acknowledge that there is still work to be done to fully realize the benefits of these rules and that NJDEP must still propose the remaining rules called for by Governor Murphy in January 2020 and expedite the approval process for these rules. Holding developers accountable for the safety of our families and communities requires swift action from the NJDEP.

Additionally, we urge municipalities to incorporate the new rules into their ordinances without delay. While the rules allow for a year-long timeframe, there is no justification for further delays in reducing the causes of flooding and preventing future projects from being built within flood plains. Acting promptly will mitigate risks and protect the well-being of our residents. 

Let us seize this opportunity to create a safer and more sustainable future for our state. We are grateful for this progress and urge Governor Murphy and all relevant authorities to remain steadfast in their commitment to protecting New Jersey from the perils of flooding and water pollution. 

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