Officials are considering strategies to mitigate N.J.’s back bay flooding problem

Nuisance flooding is a part of life in New Jersey's coastal communities.

Nuisance flooding is a part of life in New Jersey's coastal communities. (Bill Barlow/for WHYY)

Are there solutions on the horizon for New Jersey’s back bay flooding problem? State and federal officials say that’s possible as they conduct a comprehensive flood-risk mitigation study for the state’s back bay areas.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are analyzing 950 square miles and nearly 3,400 miles of waterways in Atlantic, Burlington, Cape May, Monmouth and Ocean counties.

The objective of the state and federal cost-shared study, officials say, is to reduce nuisance and storm flooding through a variety of potential methods.

Strategies include structural solutions — surge barriers, tide gates, levees, floodwalls and drainage improvements — and natural solutions — marsh restoration, beach and dune restoration, and the creation of living shorelines (areas planted with native marsh grasses and shellfish to provide natural flood buffers), according to a news release.

State and federal officials are hosting meetings next month in Ventnor and Toms River to discuss the study and solicit public input (information is below).

In recent years following Superstorm Sandy’s devastation, one local official has pitched dredging as a possible solution to flooding,

And in 2016, Little Egg Harbor successfully tested the use of compost bales weighing up to 38,000 pounds to provide a “breakwall” along a portion of the municipality’s back bay frontage.

Although it was only meant to be a temporary solution, township officials said at the time that they would investigate a permanent fix.

Tim Dillingham, executive director of the American Littoral Society, has previously said that building up and maintaining salt marshes to reduce flooding is a better solution than hard defenses.

The first meeting will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sept. 12 at the Ventnor Educational Community Complex, 400 North Lafayette Ave., Ventnor 08406. The second meeting will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sept. 13 at the Ocean County College Gateway Building, Lot 1 off College Drive, Toms River, 08753.

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