NEW JERSEY ASSOCIATION

FOR FLOODPLAIN MANAGEMENT

News & Announcements Blog

This blog is about NJAFM News and Announcements. Posts can only be made by NJAFM Administrators, however comments to the posts can be made by all registered members. If you have an announcement that you would like posted to this blog, send the request to secretary@njafm.org. This blog is viewable by the public.

  • Friday, November 06, 2015 5:56 PM | Greg Westfall (Administrator)
    New Jersey Urban Water Conference


    Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015
    8:00am to 12:30pm New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark NJ

    The New Jersey Urban Water Conference is a half-day event that will bring together state and local decision-makers, practitioners and stakeholders to build awareness of the importance of modern drinking water, stormwater and wastewater infrastructure as key to New Jersey’s prosperity.

    The conference will:
    • Build awareness of the importance of modern drinking water, stormwater and wastewater infrastructure as key to New Jersey’s prosperity
    • Educate on best practices and innovative solutions
    • Celebrate Jersey Water Works, its members and accomplishments
    • For further information go to:  njurbanwater.com

                   and  

    http://www.njfuture.org/issues/environment-and-agriculture/water-sewer/urban-water-infrastructure/



  • Monday, November 02, 2015 1:25 PM | Greg Westfall (Administrator)

    Free Registration!

         

    In cooperation with the American Planning Association (APA), the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) presents the third Planning Information Exchange (PIE) webinar. PIE is a free eight-part quarterly webinar series focusing on tools, best practices, and strategies on the role of hazard mitigation planning and its connections with recovery planning and preparedness.

     

    PRESENTERS:

     

     

    Tim Trautman, P.E., CFM

    Mitigation Program Manager

    Charlotte-Mecklenburg Cnty., NC

    Tareq Wafaie, AICP

    Planner

    Clarion Associates

     

    The fourth part in the series involves discussions with the Engineering & Mitigation Program Manager for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services (CMSWS) in Charlotte, NC, Tim Trautman, and a planner with Clarion Associates' in Denver, CO, Tareq Wafaie. Tim is actively involved nationally on policy issues with the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) and is currently responsible for protecting life and property from flooding and restoring natural and beneficial floodplain functions. Tareq works primarily on land use and development codes, natural hazard mitigation, urban renewal, and comprehensive planning. In addition to his work in the private sector, he has experience working in state and local government. Jim Schwab, Manager of the APA Hazards Planning Center, will moderate as the two professionals discuss how their communities translated mitigation goals into achievements in two very different environments, Colorado and North Carolina. Learn what makes for successful implementation of mitigation goals for flood, wildfire, and other major hazards.

     

    CONTINUING EDUCATION

    1 CM and 1 CEC credit is available for AICPs & CFMs who participate in the entire webinar. 


    REGISTRATION

    To register for this webinar go to:  

    https://www.planning.org/nationalcenters/hazards/planninginformationexchange/  

    When directed to the landing page, please click on the register button under the titled section 'Upcoming Webinars'. You will then be taken to the registration page. Please fill in the required information and click the submit button.  

    PIE Webinars Hosted by: 

      


  • Thursday, October 29, 2015 7:13 PM | Greg Westfall (Administrator)


    The 37th Annual New Jersey Society of Professional Land Surveyors Conference and Exhibition will take place at Bally's Park Place Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey on February 3-5, 2016.  Featured will be three full days of classes where you can earn up to 24 hours of continuing education credit. 

    For further information on the Conference and Exhibition go to:
    http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.njspls.org/resource/resmgr/survcon/147174R_survcon-2.pdf




  • Thursday, October 29, 2015 7:05 PM | Greg Westfall (Administrator)

    Morris County's Flood Mitigation Program & Blue Acres

     

    Tuesday, November 10, 2015    8-9:30AM 

    GSWA Headquarters, 568 Tempe Wick Road, Morristown

     

     

    Are the citizens in your town concerned with flooding?

    Please join us and GSWA members for a special breakfast briefing program on Morris County's Flood Mitigation Program and Blue acres.

     

     

    Created in 2012, the Morris County Flood Mitigation Program has worked directly with 9 municipalities, closing on 55 projects, with 36 projects in progress. The program goal is to create open space and lower municipal costs by moving people out of harms way.



    Our speaker will be Jennifer McCulloch, the founding Program Coordinator of Morris County's Flood Mitigation Program. A Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM), she has worked in land preservation for 13 years, focusing on the acquisition of open space, farmland, and now flood-prone properties. She joined Morris County's Farmland Preservation group 7 years ago, having previously worked with the Harding Land Trust and the Morris Land Conservancy. 

     

    Please note that this meeting will not be held at the regular Dodge Foundation location, but instead at GSWA Headquarters, 568 Tempe Wick Road, Morristown. This is also open to GSWA's Members.

     

    The Great Swamp Passaic Municipal Alliance fosters an ongoing collaborative discussion of issues that transcend our individual municipal borders. Our goal is to approach shared concerns and address them in a regional and cost-effective manner by working together. This is an informal networking platform for the exchange of ideas, the sharing of concerns, and development of solutions, among people involved in municipal government.

    Please share this invitation with other municipal elected or appointed officials, or other relevant parties.

     

    Costs underwritten by the Leavens Foundation

    Great Swamp Watershed Association

    Protecting our waters and our land for more than 30 years

     ph. (973) 538-3500 * e. info@greatswamp.org * w. GreatSwamp.org

    Street Address: 568 Tempe Wick Road, Morristown, NJ 07960 - Map It!

    Mailing Address: P.O. Box 300, New Vernon, NJ 07976



     


  • Tuesday, October 27, 2015 11:11 AM | Greg Westfall (Administrator)

    Are Towns in a Better Position to Make

    Long-Term Resiliency Decisions? 

    New Report Examines Model Framework for Local Disaster Resiliency Planning

    TRENTON, Oct. 27, 2015 -- A new report from New Jersey Future examines the origin and outcomes of a groundbreaking approach to helping communities take steps to make themselves more resilient to natural disasters. The approach, based on FEMA's recommended National Disaster Recovery Framework, was piloted by New Jersey Future in six Sandy-affected communities. The report summarizes the lessons learned from those engagements, and discusses recommendations for replicating the approach effectively in other post-disaster situations.  For further information go to:

    http://www.njfuture.org/issues/planning-and-governance/regional/rebuilding-after-sandy/


  • Monday, October 26, 2015 10:46 AM | Greg Westfall (Administrator)
    Source:   http://www.philly.com/philly/news/new_jersey/20151025_PIECEMEAL_PLANNING.html

    Local towns take the lead in post-Sandy improvement

    Shar

    image: http://media.philly.com/images/600*400/DonGuardian1.JPG

    Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian, at the Baltic Avenue canal and floodgates. The city’s flood plans are worrying neighboring Ventnor.
    Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/new_jersey/20151025_PIECEMEAL_PLANNING.html#UzgOi4Vpg7Qft6IA.99

    AMY S. ROSENBERG, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
    POSTED: Sunday, October 25, 2015, 1:08 AM

    image: http://media.philly.com/designimages/partnerIcon-Inquirer-2014.jpg

    ATLANTIC CITY - It was 1912, a century before Hurricane Sandy, and Atlantic City was engineering a brash future, both as a place that could tame floodwaters and a coastal town that could be something vaster.

    "TEST OF BIG RAIN SHOWS DRAINAGE CANAL WILL WORK," the headline trumpeted. And it did, for decades. The city flourished.

    Fast-forward a century, to Oct. 29, 2012, with old marvels like that Baltic Avenue Canal long dormant, chronic flooding a way of life. Atlantic City, like other Jersey Shore towns, was caught looking.

    Now, three years after Sandy swamped, crushed, and traumatized towns along coastal New Jersey, what has changed?

    MORE COVERAGE

    If you went to the inlet end of Atlantic City during the nor'easter this month, you might think - incorrectly - not much. Again, sea waters flooded unimpeded, wooden debris spewed a block away. Again, residents like Alicia Casado, 55, peered out at rising waters and thought, "Am I protected?"

    The truth is, infrastructure resiliency projects that languished unfunded and back-burnered for decades pre-Sandy, are now starting to be built. Many are years, and lengthy feasibility studies, away.

    In Atlantic City, projects finally underway are the $6.4 million re-engineering of the underground Baltic Canal and floodgates, a $32.5 million inlet sea wall and an $8.8 million bulkhead project for flood-prone Chelsea Heights.

    In Monmouth County, a $200 million state project will begin in 2016 to protect Union Beach with walls, levees and pumps.

    But along much of the coast, solutions to basic resiliency issues are still years in the future.

    The Christie administration pushes its vast dune beach project (an Army Corps of Engineers shore protection plan for the 127-mile coast), but the more thorny problem of the back bays is being dealt with town by town, even resident by resident.

    Bill Dixon, coastal engineering chief with the Department of Environmental Protection, said the state has begun a study.

    "Replacing every bulkhead in the state to a flood elevation, you'd have to configure a wall of the same elevation to make it a flood-control project," he said. "These cost exponentially more money than a beach-fill project."

    Thousands of residents have either elevated, or are elevating, their homes. Once indifferent coastal towns are sending building officials to school to become flood plain managers.

    But there remains a difficult truth about New Jersey: The nitty gritty of resilience planning and preparedness, ordinances and building codes, emergency management, falls mostly to municipalities.

    And there are 565 of them in New Jersey - big, small, and tiny, some well-trained, some seat-of-the-pants, some farsighted, others waking up.

    DEP Commissioner Bob Martin acknowledged as much this month when he traveled to Atlantic City to launch the seawall project.

    "In truth, it is all over the board," he said. "Some cities and towns are better prepared than others. It's up to municipalities to have to come forward."

    Much to learn

    Inside those borough halls, Sandy taught rank-and-file responders - code officials, deputy emergency managers, recycling heads turned preparedness specialists - much had to be learned.

    "We didn't know what we were getting ourselves into," Nick Fabiano, Matawan construction official told a full house at the N.J. Association for Floodplain Management conference at Bally's last week, in a talk called "Superstorm Sandy Municipal Failures and Administrative Disconnects."

    "We showed up boots on the ground," he said. "We felt like first responders." He recalled people advising residents to pump out flooded basements, then seeing "secondary collapses" result.

    They are only now getting up to speed, in some cases still untangling issues like sheltering. Nonprofits like New Jersey Future and the Jacque Cousteau Research Reserve send planners, but money for that help is drying up.

    Jim Rutala, a grant writer and planner, has been a weapon for towns including Atlantic City and Ventnor, navigating post-Sandy pots of money from an alphabet of federal and state sources (EDA, EPA, HUD, CDBG, DEP, FEMA, EIT).

    Monmouth County created a system to marry emergency planning with the work of code officials.

    Towns such as Lower Township and West Wildwood are trying to get into the Community Rating System of the National Flood Insurance Program. The CRS gives a range of insurance discounts to residents of towns that meet resiliency goals.

    Bayfront mainland towns including Absecon, Pleasantville, and Linwood enrolled after Sandy. Savvy towns such as Avalon, Longport, Brigantine, Margate, and Sea Isle have long participated, all with "5" ratings and 25 percent discounts for their (mostly affluent) homeowners.

    In the middle is a town like Ventnor, with a new flood-plain manager, Dino Cavalieri, help from nonprofit resiliency groups, who have stressed sea level rise, and now with a 7 rating (15 percent off).

    Many advocates say the Christie administration has backed away from sea-level rise as a guide for resiliency. Sea rise is mentioned in state documents, but not as a predictable planning guideline. Scientists at Rutgers University predict that sea levels at the Shore will rise about a foot by 2030, 11/2 to 2 feet by 2050, greatly increasing inundation from floods.

    "It remains a difficult topic for local officials to wrestle with," said David Kutner, of New Jersey Future. "New Jersey isn't giving anyone any guidance."

    At the municipal level, it's not a hard sell, and not only because bond raters now look at sea level rise.

    "You see it all over. Places that didn't used to flood are flooding," said Cavalieri, who urged Ventnor to adopt higher than the state-set minimum elevation, and lower thresholds for a home to be declared substantially damaged (50 to 40 percent).

    Ocean City engineer Arthur Chew pushed for stricter codes for years that were adopted only after Sandy. Ocean City homeowners pays more in flood insurance than any town in the state, he said.

    "It was those sorts of things the storm brought to light," he said. Ocean City is building pumping stations and raised streets near 10th and Haven. (A neighbor no longer needs waders to go home at high tide, clinging to porches.)

    In Sea Isle, construction official Cornelius Byrne issued 190 summonses non-compliant homeowners, pre-Sandy. Cape May County is raising the Sea Isle Causeway by 4.5 feet.

    "It cost political capital and will to implement what's needed," he said. "Citizens get it after Sandy. I don't hear complaints from those people now." A speaker at the flood-plain conference advised electing mayors who live in a town's flood zone.

    Heightened fear

    But newly resilient homes have led to worries that those in elevated houses won't evacuate, believing themselves (and not just their homes) safe.

    The state says 1,430 elevations have been completed with grants, with 4,880 in progress. Lisa Ryan, of the Department of Community Affairs, says rebuilding grants are signed with 7,600 of 8,000 homeowners. Of these, 1,800 have completed construction.

    In flattened towns such as Ortley Beach - famously labeled "Ground Zero, Forever Changed" on a sign just taken down from its perch on Route 35 - the rebuilding has left locals feeling their hometowns have, in fact, changed forever.

    Terri Cerillo, 75, bought on Second Avenue for $23,500 in 1972. She rebuilt inside after chest-high flooding during Sandy, but did not raised her bungalow. The house is now under contract to sell for $329,000 - in part because Cerillo us now surrounded by modern three-story houses that block sea breezes. Neighbors now peer down at her. It's unrecognizable. "I'm not happy here," she said. "Everything was bungalows. It was the Jersey Shore. Now it's the city."

    A block away, the erratic state of Sandy rebuilding can be seen in one block of Fielder Avenue. Dolores Franco, 84, says she feels secure in a house built to recent standards, while next door, a vacant bungalow is still down to studs, marked uninhabitable. Across the street, the big homes built post-Sandy that now define Ortley and other towns - McBungalows - glisten.

    Canal recovery

    Mayor Don Guardian, in a bow tie, and his planning director, Elizabeth Terenik, in heels, paid a visit recently to Georgia Avenue at Atlantis, where the ruins of the Baltic Avenue canal will be resurrected.

    "It's exciting that something that's been in place since 1913 can still work for us," Terenik said, standing by cracked concrete and giant screws for gates once manned by one guy at Georgia Avenue, another guy at Rhode Island.

    The 9,600-foot canal runs under Baltic Avenue. During high tides, the gates close to keep tidal waters out of the city. Pump chambers can evacuate excess stormwater. The canal can be kept empty for use during storms. Guardian says it should eliminate two-thirds of chronic flooding in city back bay neighborhoods.

    Atlantic City also hopes to raise West End Avenue, a coastal evacuation route that routinely floods and gets shut down. A couple of times a year, people in Ventnor Heights can find both their exit routes closed off by flooding - Dorset Avenue across the bridge, and West End to the Black Horse Pike.

    But in true Jersey fashion, Atlantic City's plans have adjacent Ventnor, without similar funding, worried it will be the recipient of their neighbor's flood water. "Building a bulkhead, raising the road, where's that extra water going to go?" said Ventnor's Cavalieri. "They probably need a little more study on that."

    arosenberg@phillynews.com

    609-823-0453

    @amysrosenberg

    www.philly.com/downashore


    Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/new_jersey/20151025_PIECEMEAL_PLANNING.html#UzgOi4Vpg7Qft6IA.99


  • Friday, October 16, 2015 2:09 PM | Greg Westfall (Administrator)

    Partners,

    Yesterday during a meeting, a presenter showed the 1960s version of the 100-year/24 hour rainfall PF map and it dawned on me that I need to spread the good news!

    Therefore, if you haven't heard already, the NOAA Atlas 14 - Precipitation Frequency data, has been updated for NY and the Northeastern States. The update was finalized on September, 30th 2015. 

    The data is now high resolution and available online in various formats, such as tables, static maps, and GIS. So, go ahead and  pitch those old, tattered, paper copies and bookmark the links below.

    Please distribute this notification as far and wide as possible to your colleagues in planning, soils, engineering, water resources, or anyone else you feel needs this Precipitation Frequency information. The pertinent web links are below.


    Main service link: http://hdsc.nws.noaa.gov/hdsc/pfds/index.html
    New York: http://hdsc.nws.noaa.gov/hdsc/pfds/pfds_map_cont.html?bkmrk=ny
    Pennsylvania: http://hdsc.nws.noaa.gov/hdsc/pfds/pfds_map_cont.html?bkmrk=pa
    Documentation (coming in Nov. for NY) http://www.nws.noaa.gov/oh/hdsc/currentpf.htm

    Enjoy,


    -JB


    Jim Brewster                               james.brewster@noaa.gov

    Hydrologist/Meteorologist                 607-770-9531 x 234

    NOAA/NWS Binghamton, NY       http://weather.gov/binghamton


  • Friday, October 16, 2015 1:23 PM | Greg Westfall (Administrator)

    Hazards Planning & Resilience: The Elected Official's Perspective Free Webinar 10/19/2015

         Free Registration!

         

    In cooperation with the American Planning Association (APA), the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) presents the third Planning Information Exchange (PIE) webinar. PIE is a free eight-part quarterly webinar series focusing on tools, best practices, and strategies on the role of hazard mitigation planning and its connections with recovery planning and preparedness.

    PRESENTERS:





    Sallie Clark

    President
    National Association of Counties

    Linda Langston

    Past President

    National Association of Counties

     

    The third part in the series involves discussions with District 3 Board Commissioner for El Paso County, CO, Sallie Clark, and District 2 Board Supervisor for Linn County, IA, Linda Langston. Sallie currently serves on the National Association of Counties (NACo) board as president. Linda is a past president of NACo, and is the current board chair of NACo's Resilient Counties Initiative. Both presenters have experience as elected officials before, during, and after a disaster in their communities. Chad Berginnis, Executive Director of the Association of State Floodplain Managers, will moderate as they discuss:

    • What elected officials are most concerned about when it comes to natural and man-made hazards;
    • Whether communities should try to become more resilient and why;
    • The role of planners and planning can be improved to help elected officials be more effective;
    • Perceived obstacles to effective hazards planning; and
    • Words of wisdom for practicing planners.

     

    CONTINUING EDUCATION

    1 CM and 1 CEC credit is available for AICPs & CFMs who participate in the entire webinar. 


    REGISTRATION

    To register for this webinar go to:  

    https://www.planning.org/nationalcenters/hazards/planninginformationexchange/

    When directed to the landing page, please click on the register button under the titled section 'Upcoming Webinars'. You will then be taken to the registration page. Please fill in the required information and click the submit button.  


  • Tuesday, October 13, 2015 10:52 PM | Greg Westfall (Administrator)

    The NJ-AWRA in conjunction with its partners/presenters:

    Are presenting a two-part webinar series which will focus on Soils Health, and related Best Management Practices, Planning, Development and Redevelopment issues.  The last webinar will be held on October 30th at 11am

    , is free and open to the public. Continuing Education credits have been requested.  AICP CM credits have been approved, 1 CM per webinar; NJ Professional Engineers can self report, 1 credit per webinar,  NJ Public Works Managers, 1 technical credit/hour per webinar and Foresters CFE credits are pending.  The first webinar has been recorded and is on the NJ-AWRA website at: http://nsawra.onefireplace.org/Soil_Health

     


  • Monday, October 05, 2015 4:27 PM | Greg Westfall (Administrator)

    Are we headed for a dam disaster?

    185 N.J. dams could fail in catastrophic flood, but state won't say which ones

    [Posted by Carla Astudillo | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com October 02, 2015, 9:48 AM]

    It only takes one big rain storm for a dam disaster.

    Dams are just one part of our deteriorating infrastructure, one that receives little attention, especially since New Jersey has never experienced a catastrophic dam failure with huge loss of life.  However, with 500 year storms becoming more common, many New Jersey dams are still not up to standards and potentially endanger thousands of lives downstream.  There are more than 1,500 total dams in New Jersey, and they are classified into three general hazard potential groups:

    ·         Low Hazard and Small Dam Low Hazard – if these dams were to fail, it would not cause any damage of life or property. The majority of dams in New Jersey fall into this category.

    According to DEP, 556 dams — more than one-third — fall into the following two groups:

    ·         Significant Hazard– if these dams were to fail, it could lead to significant property damage

    ·         High Hazard– if these dams were to fail, it could lead to both significant property damage and potential loss of life.

    But due to "security concerns resulting from [9/11] attacks," DEP has not published a full list of high and significant hazard dams.

    However, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers keeps a National Inventory of Dams, which lists bothsignificant and high hazard potential dams, as well low hazard dams that are of certain height and storage size. It was last updated in 2013.

    When NJ Advance Media requested dam inspection data, DEP would only release numbers by county. They would not release which dam received which rating or any other detailed information because of security concerns.

    RELATEDCoastal flooding, high wind warnings issued for parts of N.J.

    The data shows that out of 556 high and significant hazard dams, 185 of them received a rating of "poor" in their last dam inspection.

    However, a "poor" rating does not mean the dam is necessarily falling apart, according to John Moyle, manager of the NJ Bureau of Dam Safety. It means if an event such as a catastrophic flood were to occur, the dam has the potential to fail and cause significant damage.

    In addition, Moyle said that there may be dams that have already been fixed and are awaiting inspections. Inspections on high and significant hazard dams are required every two years, according to DEP guidelines.

    Morris and Sussex counties are home to the greatest total number of "poor" rated dams, with 29 and 24, respectively. However, those are the two counties with the most high and significant hazard dams in New Jersey. Both counties have about 35 percent of these dams rated as "poor".

    Camden County has only 21 high and significant hazard dams, but 17 of them received a "poor" rating. Inspectors gave 14 out of the 23 high and significant hazard dams in Monmouth County a "poor" rating.

    Overall, five counties, Camden, Monmouth, Cumberland, Salem and Atlantic, had half or more than half of their high and significant hazard dams rated as "poor".

    In addition, two dams, one in Sussex and one in Warren, were given a rating of "unsatisfactory" which means that the dams are considered "unsafe" and require "immediate or emergency remedial action," according to DEP guidelines.

    HOW DAMS CAN FAIL

    There are a few ways that dams can fail, said Andrés Roda, senior research manager at the Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation at Rutgers.

    Seeping water can cause erosion inside the dam and can lead disastrous leaks.

    "It's like the classic cartoons where you put your finger in one spot, and it starts to leak in another," Roda said.   "Overtopping" of a dam is also pretty common when you have a storm that dumps rain for a long period of time. The resulting soil erosion can eat away at the dam until it collapses.  "You can also have cascading failures," Roda said. "If you have two or more dams in the same corridor, once that first dam fails, you have a volume of water that packs a punch to other one."   In fact, heavy rains and flooding have caused several dam failures in New Jersey over the years. Among them:

    ·         In July 2004, flooding in Burlington County led to the failure of six significant hazard dams and caused damage to two high hazard dams.

    ·         Rainbow Lake Dam, located in Pittsgrove Township in Salem County collapsed during an April 2007 Nor'easter draining the 91-acre lake and causing damage along Rte. 56.

    ·         An early August 2011 storm in Cumberland County caused four dams to fail, including the high hazard Sunset Lake Raceway Dam, which caused more than $20 million in damage, according to initial reports.

    ·         Two weeks later, Hurricane Irene struck and resulted in the failure of six dams, including one on Weldon Brook, a tributary to Lake Hopatcong and one in a tributary to Crosswicks Creek in Burlington County.

    Deteriorating dams are not just a New Jersey phenomenon. According to the Association of State Dam Safety Officials, the percentage of dams with "poor" or "unsatisfactory" ratings increased from 7 percent to 15 percent nationwide, as more states ramp up inspection of high and significant hazard dams.

    The American Society of Civil Engineers 2013 Report Card gave the nation's dams a D grade for the growing number of deteriorating high hazard dams in the last couple of years. In addition, a recent U.S. Government Accountability Office report found that the 707 dams built and maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may be at risk from both extreme weather and the sea level rise.

    DAM RISKS AND REGULATIONS

    As the years go by, it is even more important for dams to be properly maintained by their owners, according to Roda, from the Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation at Rutgers.  This is because as the state's population increases, more people move to areas downstream of dams, causing the dam's hazard classification to go from low to high.   "Private dam owners may be surprised to discover that a potential failure of their small dam, built years past, could potentially cause costly damages or be life threatening," Roda said.

    In 2002, the number of high hazard dams nationwide stood at 10,118. Ten years later, it went up to 13,991, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.

    Also, dams are aging. According to the National Inventory of Dams, 457 out of the 826 dams in their New Jersey database are older than 50 years old, which is the standard expected lifetime for dams. Not all dams in the NID's inventory include the year they were constructed so there could be even more.

    These dams were built using the engineering technology available at the time when they were first constructed, but may be outdated and in need of upgrade.

    Even though the NJ Bureau of Dam Safety  has vastly reduced the amount of high and significant hazard dams in poor conditions since 1980, maintaining New Jersey's dams in compliance is still easier said than done.

    "Every dam has its own story," Moyle, of the dam bureau. "Whether there's a funding issue or a design issue or in the middle of an enforcement action or in litigation."

    The NJ Bureau of Dam Safety's 14 dam inspectors are in charge of inspecting and keeping track of more than 1,500 total dams in New Jersey, and the process can hit a snag when questions of ownership and money come in:

    ·         In 2011, upkeep for a significant hazard dam in Wyckoff reached a deadlock when the township and the homeowners could not come to a decision as to who would pay for it.

    ·         In 2014, repair work at an Atlantic County high hazard dam near Lake Lenape was suspended because of a dispute between the contractors and the county.

    ·         After years of litigation, courts ruled that Gloucester County and several landowners must pitch in for the repair costs of several dams.

    But even when ownership issues are ironed out, one set of repairs is not enough.

    "They're living structures," Moyle adds. "And they need to go back and fix them again and again."

    Because money is a big issue, DEP has a grants and loans program that has given out a total of over $98 million to dam owners needing help in paying for dam repairs.

    DEP also requires dam owners of high and significant hazard dams to keep an emergency action plan, which is a formal document outlining emergency pre-planned procedures, in case the dam should break.

    According to a 2015 list of high and significant dams without emergency action plans given by DEP to NJ Advance Media, there are currently 17 high and significant risk potential dams without emergency plans.

    Mark Ogden, project manager at the Association of State Dam Safety Officials, particularly singled out New Jersey "as one of the best states" in prompting the creation of emergency action plans.

    However, many experts point out that one of the biggest obstacles for regulators is raising awareness on dam safety — both among dam owners and the surrounding community.

    "There are a lot of stakeholders when it comes to dams, and sometimes it's not as high profile with the public because they're not a bridge or a road where people travel on every day," Ogden said. "But if they were to fail, there would be a huge impact."

    Carla Astudillo may be reached at castudillo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter@carla_astudiFind NJ.com on Facebook.



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