Powerful storms moved through New Jersey Thursday afternoon and evening, bring about heavy rain. And there is one factor that makes New Jersey more susceptible to flooding than other states – and that is the amount of developed land.
New Jersey’s land is about 12% covered in pavement – more than any other state. Rhode Island is second with 10%. What this means is that when storms like Ida roar through, New Jersey sees major flooding.
“Even manicured lawns and fields are not good at absorbing stormwater,” says Peter Kasabach, executive director of New Jersey Future. “They act like parking lots a lot of times and water runs off them and causes increased flooding.”
Kasabach and others are sounding the alarm, saying that federal, state and local governments need to do more to give the water someplace to go.
“The amount of impervious surfaces is a problem… People have been talking more and more about green infrastructure to act like a sponge to be able to catch this water as soon as it hits the ground. We don't do that enough. We should be incorporating that into every new development project that we do. Planning boards have to be educated. They have to understand that they can do something pro-actively to address these issues and then they have to do it,” Kasabach says.
In March, the state Department of Environmental Protection issued new stormwater regulations. It requires every town to update its own rules and include more green infrastructure practices.