Governor Phil Murphy Unveils Inland Flood Protection Rule

Morristown Minute
Governor Murphy Announces Filing of Landmark Inland Flood Protection Rule.Photo byMorristown Minute

The Inland Flood Protection Rule proposes revised design elevations for developments...Revolutionizing New Jersey's Climate Resilience Strategy

In a transformative move for climate adaptation, Governor Phil Murphy declared the pending adoption of the Inland Flood Protection Rule, a groundbreaking regulatory measure that stands to greatly fortify New Jersey's communities against the escalating threats of riverine flooding and stormwater runoff.

Set to replace outdated precipitation estimates, this rule introduces a modern approach to New Jersey's flood hazard and stormwater regulations.

Incorporating state-of-the-art data on NJ rainfall patterns, it's a rule that doesn’t merely react to flooding, but anticipates it.

This innovative change aims to mitigate the impact of stormwater runoff, bolstering the resiliency of new developments in the state's flood-prone inland areas.

The rule distinguishes New Jersey as the first state in the nation to utilize predictive precipitation modeling in its rulemaking, a trailblazing step toward shielding future development and redevelopment from the far-reaching impacts of climate change.

Echoing the urgency of our changing climate and increasingly intense rainfall, the Inland Flood Protection Rule proposes revised design elevations for developments.

These new standards apply specifically to new and substantially reconstructed developments in inland riverine areas prone to flooding. However, they don’t prohibit development in these flood hazard areas, striking a balance between progress and preservation.

Under the two primary components of the rule:

  • the elevation of habitable first floors will be two feet higher than currently indicated on DEP state flood maps and three feet higher than indicated on FEMA maps;
  • Applicants for certain permits will be required to use DEP's New Jersey-specific precipitation data when calculating peak flow rates of streams and rivers for permits under the Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules, as well as when proposed development triggers compliance with DEP’s Stormwater Management rules.

The updated standards under the rule will not apply to existing developments, nor to pending development applications that are administratively complete at the time of adoption, providing a degree of continuity for current projects and stakeholders.

In a further step to empower the public in flood risk management, the DEP has launched a flood indicator tool. This handy resource aids property owners in evaluating potential flood risk, contributing to informed decision-making.

Supporting the urgency of this rule, studies commissioned by the Murphy Administration underscore that precipitation has increased in the state over the past 20 years. These studies project this trend to persist through the end of the century, signaling the escalating need for robust flood protection measures.

The Inland Flood Protection Rule is a key part of New Jersey's comprehensive strategy to enhance the state’s resilience amid the impacts of climate change.

This measure, in addition to the myriad of other initiatives spearheaded by Governor Murphy’s administration, shows New Jersey’s commitment to proactive, science-based action in the face of the climate crisis. In this vein, New Jersey isn't just responding to climate change, it's preempting it, leading the way for other states to follow.

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