New Jersey Back Bays Coastal Storm Risk Management Study

USACE Philadelphia District
Published Feb. 22, 2023


APPROPRIATION / PHASE: General Investigation

DESCRIPTION: The New Jersey Back Bay (NJBB) Focus Area is located behind the New Jersey barrier islands of Monmouth, Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May Counties and includes the set of interconnected water bodies and coastal lakes that are separated from the Atlantic Ocean.  The authority for the NJBB Study (Resolutions adopted by U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate Committees in December 1987) support NACCS outcomes, are broad in scope and application and address the development of a coastal processes database, monitoring and related actions as the basis for actions and programs to prevent the harmful effects of shoreline erosion and storm damage.  The authority also recommends that site specific studies for beach erosion control and hurricane protection be undertaken in areas with a Federal project, action, or response. The purpose of the study is to investigate Coastal Storm Risk Management (CSRM) strategies and solutions to reduce damages from coastal flooding affecting population, critical infrastructure, critical facilities, property, and ecosystems. The NJBB Study is being performed to align with the goals of the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study (NACCS), which are to:

  • Provide a risk management framework, consistent with and NOAA/ USACE Infrastructure Systems Rebuilding Principles; and
  • Support resilient coastal communities and robust, sustainable coastal landscape systems, considering future sea level and climate change scenarios, to reduce risk to vulnerable populations, property, ecosystems, and infrastructure.

STUDY PROCESS: The study will consider past, current, and future coastal storm risk management and resilience planning initiatives and projects underway by the USACE and other Federal, State, and local agencies. Three overarching efforts will be performed:

  • Assess the study area’s problems, opportunities and future without project conditions;
  • Assess the feasibility of implementing system-wide coastal storm risk management solutions such as policy/programmatic strategies, storm surge barriers at selected inlet entrances, or tidal gates at selected lagoon entrances; and
  • If system-wide solutions are not feasible, assess the feasibility of implementing site-specific solutions, such as a combination of structural, non-structural, and natural and nature-based features. 

The end product of this study will be a decision document in the form of a Chief’s Report authorizing comprehensive USACE design and construction opportunities using the full array of CSRM strategies and measures for community-based solutions within a watershed-based, systems framework.  Also included in the report would be recommendations of actionable and policy implementable items for non-USACE entities, including floodplain management, landscape architecture, hurricane evacuation plans, and Community Rating System enhancement opportunities.  Additional recommendations will be provided for incorporating existing USACE and external programs, projects, plans and actions, as well as public-private partnership opportunities into the NACCS NJBB study umbrella.  A programmatic NEPA document will be developed identifying a range of impacts.  The PED Phase will include detailed design with a detailed fully compliant programmatic NEPA document which evaluates impacts for specific solutions.

USACE released a draft feasibility report in Summer 2021 outlining a Tentatively Selected Plan and the study team anticipates releasing another report in the Summer of 2023. 

NON-FEDERAL SPONSOR: New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection