DEP Sandy Event: Cover Up of Failed Coastal Policies
via Sierra Club of NJ: While the NJDEP commemorates the 3rd Anniversary of Hurricane Sandy by pumping sand on beaches in Sea Isle City, we are concerned that New Jersey is still not planning for climate change or sea level rise. With over-development and no adequate planning for flooding impacts, we question whether the dune construction project will even last during future storm surges. The DEP has opened up our coast for more development by weakening CAFRA rules and creating new loopholes and increased development in environmentally sensitive areas. After recent storms, beach replenishment projects have already failed and we must address flooding and build an appropriate dune system to prevent damage from the next storm.
“It’s only fitting that the DEP is celebrating Sandy by pumping mounds of sand on our coast because they are using the sand to cover up their failed coastal polices. They have not planned for sea level rise, addressed coastal erosion, offered no buyouts along the coast or restored natural systems like marshes and wetlands. This is just another Bob Martin photo-op while he is weakening protections for our coast ,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Instead of actually creating natural dunes, they are just pumping sand that will wash out again. Pumping sand on a beach is not a resiliency policy for our coast and will do little to mitigate erosion. This is just is a temporary band aid at best and will waste millions of dollars a year. By pumping sand, these replenishment projects won’t work and will cost us billions more dollars in the next 10 years. We should be planning for seal level rise by restoring natural dunes and wetlands, but this method will actually rob sand from the sea floor. This project will actually destroy vital fisheries and shoals where the fish the breed and turn the sea floor into a desert. The sand they are pumping is just a symbol for their failed policies. ”
It is important to require dunes as we restore and rebuild our beaches, except that is not what this Administration is doing. Without an overall comprehensive approach for resiliency and coastal planning, this beach replenishment project will fail. We must look at protecting and restoring natural systems including marshes and tidal wetlands. Real dunes are vitally important when it comes to protecting our coast against beach erosion, providing habitats for all types of species, protecting property from storms and storm surges. However, dunes alone are not going to solve all our problems. We need a regional plan that addresses stormwater, development, and sea level rise to mitigate serious impacts.
“Just pumping sand on the beach is a waste of money and hurts the environment putting people in harm’s way. With recent storms like Joaquin, we’ve seen that many replenished beach projects by the Army Corps and DEP have already failed. Unless we build dunes appropriately and restore marshes and tidal wetlands, they cannot protect our coast against beach erosion or protect property from storm surges,” said Jeff Tittel. “ The DEP has denied the science of climate change, and therefore is not protecting these environmentally sensitive and vulnerable areas. At the same time, the DEP is allowing for more development and loopholes in coastal areas putting more people and harm’s way.”
After Hurricane Sandy, not taken into consideration sea level rise or completed suitable FEMA mapping after Hurricane Sandy. Without using climate change data and projections, we cannot properly re-build to protect our shores from the results of climate change like sea level rise and storm surges. Instead of addressing sea level rise, this Administration is plans to build sea walls that will not work. When waves crash against hard structures like metal walls or bulkheads, it only leads to more beach damage in the long run. After the recent storms a 15 foot hole in the beach replaced the dunes in front of the metal wall. This shows that hard infrastructure only makes the situation worse in many cases.
“ We spent a billion dollars on beach replenishment over the years and most keeps eroding. This is not creating dunes; it’s only putting piles of sand on the beach. Even worse, the state isn’t requiring dunes north of Manasquan. All we are doing with this current system is watching sand and millions of dollars getting washed out to sea every time there’s a storm. If we don’t address sea level rise, it is like saving the curtains when your house is on fire,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Not only aren’t we stronger than the next storm, we aren’t being smarter. This Administration has put more people in harm’s way and weakened policies to protect us from flooding. These rollbacks have all been for the Administration to take care of developers and land speculators over the public. Hurricane Sandy was a disaster and the Christie’s policies have been a disaster for our state.”
Below are the Christie Administration’s rollbacks and policies that have made us vulnerable to the next storm:
Rollbacks on Coastal Protections
- NJDEP adopted the Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA) rules that allows development without consideration of sea level rise or climate change, calls for high intensity growth in low lying, flood prone areas that are vulnerable to storm surges, and allows permit by rule which could mean building of sewer lines for pump outs without oversight and authorizes sediment sampling for dredging.
- Governor Christie closed office of Climate Change and eliminated the NJDEP Coastal Program for Mitigation and Adaptation that addressed climate change and sea level rise
- New Jersey is the only coastal state that does not have an adaption and mitigation plan for sea level rise.
Rollbacks on Climate Change
- He rolled back the revised Energy Master Plan (EMP) to cut energy efficiency and renewable energy (30% to 22.5%) goals for New Jersey. Instead it calls for more fossil fuels and supports expanding natural gas infrastructure that supports fracking.
- The administration significantly subsidized gas fire power plants, while rolling back goals for solar and wind.
- He removed New Jersey from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), costing our state $1.25 million in revenue and more than 1,800 jobs.
- He also has been the largest proponent of the South Jersey Gas pipeline that would cut a scar through the Pinelands and increase greenhouse gas emissions.
Weakening Flooding and Clean Water Programs
- The NJDEP has proposed new Water Quality Master Plan amendments to giving power to sewage authorities, other state agencies, and towns without proper reviews. This will allow developers and others to extend sewers to environmentally sensitive areas. There will no longer be DEP oversight or evaluation of environmental impacts like water supply, sprawl, and stormwater discharge. These rules will impact stormwater management, water quality management planning (WQMP), category one, stream buffers, flood hazard areas, and Highlands regulations.
- New Flood Hazard Rules proposed by the Administration are a hazard for New Jersey. The changes include removing important protects for headwaters, increasing permit by rules, and letting a permit by certification process increase development in flood-prone areas. It will allow development on piers and V-Zones that are particularly vulnerable to flooding. They will remove critical headwater protections and allow for increased drilling and power-lines in these areas. These changes are essentially loosened water and habitat protections and will be detrimental to New Jersey.
Today the NJDEP, announced the completion of a beach replenishment project in Cape May County and a new project in Sea Isle City.
NJDEP release below:
DEP, USACE ANNOUNCE COMPLETION OF $57.6 MILLION BEACH AND DUNE PROJECT IN CAPE MAY COUNTY BEACH RENOURISHMENT PROJECT IN NORTHERN OCEAN CITY TO BEGIN
(15/P97) TRENTON – The Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced the completion of the beach and dune portion of a $57.6 million project to construct beaches and dunes in Cape May County today, the third anniversary of Superstorm Sandy.
DEP Commissioner Bob Martin and Lt. Col. Michael Bliss, Commander, Philadelphia District of USACE, were joined this morning by Sea Isle City Mayor and Cape May County Freeholder Len Desiderio and other federal, state and local officials at 58th Street in Sea Isle City as machinery from contractor Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. began demobilizing.
The project, which began in April, provides southern Ocean City, the Strathmere section of Upper Township and Sea Isle City greater protection from flooding and reduced impacts from coastal erosion during storm events.
“This completed project is a critical piece in our goal of constructing a statewide coastal protection system that will safeguard lives and property,” Commissioner Martin said. “On the third anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, we are pleased to see a finished coastal project on these Cape May County beaches. From our completed beach projects, to our ongoing projects, to our future projects, the Christie Administration remains committed to bringing resiliency to New Jersey’s shoreline.”
“The completion of this project marks another big step forward in New Jersey’s drive to fortify its entire coastline, from Sandy Hook to Cape May,” said Lt. Col. Michael Bliss. “In the wake of Sandy, the DEP and the Army Corps have rebuilt a number of beaches that already had federal protection. Now we’re adding that kind of dune and beach protection to the communities that didn’t have it when the superstorm hit.
“These projects do not come to fruition without a lot of hard work from our partners – the state and the municipalities – and sacrifice from the residents and visitors to this and the other islands. We’re grateful for all that effort and cooperation,” Lt. Col. Bliss said.
“The city greatly appreciates the efforts by the DEP and the Army Corps to ensure we are protected from storms like the one that hit us three years ago,” said Mayor Desiderio. “During Sandy, we witnessed how a properly engineered beach can protect public and private properties. These dunes did their job again during the severe nor’easter earlier this month.”
During the course of the project, which began in southern Ocean City on April 17, more than 4.5 million cubic yards of sand were pumped over nine miles of the federally-funded Great Egg Harbor Inlet to Townsends Inlet project.
From 34th Street to the northern boundary of Corson’s Inlet State Part, a dune approximately 13 feet above sea level, with a 25-foot-width at the top was constructed, as well as a beach extending more than 100 feet from the seaward base of the dune.
On Ludlum Island, which encompasses the Strathmere section of Upper Township and Sea Isle City, the dune has been constructed 15 feet above sea level and 25 feet wide at the top. The beach is now more than 50 feet wide.
Additionally, beach repairs were also made between 54th and 82nd street in response to a strong nor’easter earlier this month that eroded some of the completed work.
The completed project is one of several along the New Jersey coastline being funded by $1.2 billion appropriated by Congress to rebuild and strengthen the state’s beaches following Superstorm Sandy in October 2012.
With the completion of the Great Egg Harbor Inlet to Townsends Inlet project, the contractor’s Illinois Dredge now moves to northern Ocean City to start a $9 million beach renourishment project. This project pump 700,000 cubic yards of sand in the city’s Peck Beach section, which will go to from its terminal groin at Waverly Boulevard to 12th Street. The project is expected to take between 45 and 60 days.
USACE and DEP are currently undertaking a $128 million beach and dune construction project on Long Beach Island. A $38.2 million project to construct beaches and improve infrastructure in the area of Loch Arbour, Allenhurst and Deal in Monmouth County is now complete.
Since Sandy, the Army Corps of Engineers, in partnership with DEP, completed multiple post-Sandy beach repair projects, returning roughly 45 miles of previously engineered and constructed beaches along the New Jersey coast to their original protective construction design at a cost of $345 million.
For more information on post-Sandy coastal projects in New Jersey, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/shoreprotection/projects.htm