Living Shoreline in Ocean County, NJ Voted “Best Green Project”

Photo by Jason Worth

The Iowa Court and South Green Living Shoreline Project in Little Egg Harbor and Tuckerton, NJ, was awarded “Best Green Project” by Engineering News-Record magazine. The project is recognized for its use of innovative techniques to install new features to restore damage from Hurricane Sandy and protect the area from future storms.

In 2012, Superstorm Sandy devastated communities throughout New Jersey and the entire eastern seaboard. Storm resilience, flood mitigation, and shoreline restoration have since become top priorities for coastal communities and low-lying areas.

The Township of Little Egg Harbor, in conjunction with local partners including the Borough of Tuckerton, was the recipient of a $2.13 million Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for a Marsh Restoration and Replenishment project. The grant was secured by New Jersey Future. The purpose of the project was to restore and replenish local marsh, wetlands, and beaches suffering extensive erosion along the shoreline.

T&M Associates, as the Municipal Engineer of Record for the project, oversaw all aspects of the design and implementation. T&M contracted Princeton Hydro to perform sediment sampling/testing and conduct hydrographic surveys, and Arthur Chew Consulting to assist with the feasibility study and design of the dredging project.

The project, which was completed in September 2019, provides long-term protection from erosion and will restore the vegetated shoreline habitats through strategic placement of plants, stone, sand fill, and other structural and organic materials. The living shoreline will help in the areas of storm protection, flood mitigation, and combatting shoreline erosion. The project was a great success for the Little Egg Harbor and Tuckerton communities.

Photo by Jason Worth

Since the restoration of Iowa Court and South Green Street, this living shoreline model has received significant attention and praise, including in the American Council of Engineering Companies of New Jersey 2020 Engineering Excellence Awards; the New Jersey Society of Municipal Engineers 2019 Project of the Year Awards; and, now, this “Best Green Project” award from Engineering News-Record.

“There is growing interest in this approach from municipalities up and down the Jersey Shore. Storm and flood damage is still a pressing threat to hundreds of towns and boroughs, and it is widely accepted that storms like Sandy will only become more frequent due to the effects of climate change,” said Jason Worth, P.E., Group Manager at T&M Associates. “Thankfully, there is hope in innovation and creativity – with new approaches to living shorelines we can breathe life back into devastated beachfront communities and the natural ecosystems that support them.”

Princeton Hydro specializes in the planning, design, permitting, implementing, and maintenance of coastal rehabilitation projects. To learn more about some of our ecosystem restoration and enhancement services, visit: bit.ly/PHcoastal.

Photo by Jason Worth

Setting the Precedent: Blue Acres Floodplain Restoration in Linden

The City of Linden, located 13 miles southwest of Manhattan in Union County, New Jersey, is a highly urbanized area with a complex mix of residential, commercial, and industrial land uses. Originally settled as farmland on broad marshes, the City has deep roots in industrial production that emerged in the 19th century, and its easily accessible location on the Arthur Kill tidal straight helped fuel this industrial development.

Now, the City of Linden, which is home to more than 40,000 people, is considered a transportation hub: it has three major highways running through it (the New Jersey Turnpike, Route 1, and Route 27); its rail station provides critical commuter and industry access; the Linden Municipal Airport is a gateway to the NY/NJ metropolitan area; and its access point on the Arthur Kill is used by shipping traffic to the Port Authority of NY and NJ.

Unfortunately, the industrial boom left a legacy of pollution in the city, so much, that the Tremley Point Alliance submited an official Envionmental Justice Petition to the state. In 2005, the New Jersey Environmental Task Force selected the community for the development of an Environmental Justice Action Plan and listed it as one of six environmental justice communites in New Jersey.

As do many urban municipalities, Linden suffers severe flooding from heavy rains and storms. One of the significant sources of flood water threatening the City comes from stormwater runoff.

Like other communities in the Arthur Kill Watershed, Linden also suffers severe flooding from heavy rains and storms with one of the significant sources of flood water coming from stormwater runoff. Due to a high percentage of impervious cover from houses, roadways, and sidewalks, even small rain events generate a significant amount of stormwater runoff. Over time, these conditions have been exacerbated by the historic loss of coastal wetlands and outdated infrastructure. Nuisance flooding is especially problematic as runoff cannot drain from the area at a sufficient rate to prevent flooding during normal or elevated tidal conditions. Very simply, heavy rainfall is one factor contributing to recurring flooding.

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy caused wide-spread destruction throughout New Jersey and the entire eastern seaboard. The City of Linden was hard hit, and the City’s Tremley Point neighborhood was especially storm-ravaged. Tremley Point, a low-lying community of about 275 homes located at the headwaters of Marshes Creek and in the 100-year floodplain of the Rahway River, is regularly flooded during normal rain events. During Hurricane Sandy, local news outlets reported that a 15-foot tidal surge overtook Tremley Point homes, destroyed roads, and washed up hazardous material such as a 150-gallon diesel tank.

To help communities like Tremley Point recover, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) launched the Blue Acres program under which NJDEP purchases homes from willing sellers at pre-Sandy market values, so residents in areas of repetitive and catastrophic flooding can rebuild their lives outside flood-prone areas. Structures are demolished and the properties are permanently preserved as open space for recreation or conservation purposes. The program began in 1995 and expanded with federal funding after Sandy. The goal of the Blue Acres Program is to dramatically reduce the risk of future catastrophic flood damage and to help families to move out of harm’s way.

As part of the NJDEP Blue Acres Program, Princeton Hydro, in collaboration with the City of Linden, Rutgers University, NJDEP, Phillips 66, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, New Jersey Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership, and Enviroscapes, has undertaken one of the first ecological restoration projects within Blue Acres-acquired properties, which are located in the Tremley Point neighborhood. This project increases storm resiliency by reducing flooding and stormwater runoff by improving the ecological and floodplain function within the former residential properties acquired by the NJDEP Blue Acres Program.

The City of Linden Blue Acres restoration project increases storm resiliency by reducing flooding and stormwater runoff by improving the ecological and floodplain function within the former residential properties acquired by the NJDEP Blue Acres Program.

The project includes the development and implementation of an on-the-ground green infrastructure-focused floodplain enhancement design involving the restoration of native coastal floodplain forest and meadow, as well as floodplain wetlands. The restored area provides natural buffering to storm surge and enhances floodplain functions to capture, infiltrate, store, and slow excess stormwater to reduce the risk of future flood damage. In addition, it restores natural habitat and provides public recreation access on NJDEP Blue Acres property.

The design includes re-planting the parcels and the installation of a walking path through part of the area. It also includes the creation of a floodplain bench for the adjacent drainage ditch, an unnamed tributary to Marshes Creek. A floodplain bench is a low-lying area adjacent to a stream or river constructed to allow for regular flooding in these areas. Site improvements include grading of the floodplain bench and minor depressional area; 6-12-inches of tilling, soil amendment, and planting within the planting area; and construction of the gravel pathway.

The project will result in valuable environmental and community benefits to the area, including an annual reduction in stormwater runoff of 4.1 million gallons. This represents a 45% reduction in stormwater runoff. Restoration of the floodplain will also help reduce community vulnerability to storms. The hope is that this project will be a model that fosters more floodplain restoration projects in the future.

For more information on the Blue Acres Program, please visit the DEP website.