NJDEP: Victory for New Jersey’s Coastal Waterways

The Christie Administration has won an appeal with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that will provide more time and Federal funds to complete the dredging of State channels clogged with sand and silt by Superstorm Sandy.

“This victory will improve the safety of New Jersey’s navigable coastal waterways for recreational and commercial boating and provide a long-term commitment to New Jersey’s marine transportation system,” the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) said in its announcement.

Under the favorable ruling, the State will receive an estimated $60 million or more for vital waterway recovery projects.

“Superstorm Sandy devastated New Jersey’s waterways, depositing sand and silt into many state channels, creating hazards for recreational boaters and commercial fishermen,” Governor Chris Christie said.

“Restoring the hundreds of affected channels takes time and resources. This decision recognizes the challenges New Jersey faces in meeting the monumental task of returning our navigable waterways to a state of good repair.”

Of the more than 200 channels that had some level of shoaling because of Superstorm Sandy, 131 are eligible for FEMA reimbursement.

Federal regulations originally required all of the emergency dredging work to be completed by October 30, 2017. The Christie Administration’s successful appeal resulted in FEMA reclassifying the projects as permanent work and extended the deadline for completion to December 31, 2024.

NJDOT and DEP worked closely with the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, which is in charge of coordination with FEMA for the state, to facilitate the appeal process.

In granting the extension, FEMA recognized the limited window of only three to four months during the year in which dredging activities are allowed in state channels because of weather, various regulatory timing restrictions often related to protection of wetland species/environments, as well as the constraints on availability of dredging equipment and experienced contractors.