Retreating from areas that consistently flood, improving sewer systems so they are less prone to overflowing and creating better wastewater management systems are just a few steps that have to be taken to make the Jersey Shore’s post-Sandy rebuilding process more environmentally safe, said environmentalists on Thursday.
Officials from leading New Jersey environmental organizations discussed the importance of taking these measures and many others as part of a teleconference on Thursday when they laid out what the state’s guiding principles should be as it moves through recovery and rebuilding.
American Littoral Society’s Tim Dillingham said, “These principles if followed by state, local and private decision makers will result in a restored coastal environment and more resilient communities.”
David Pringle of the NJ Environmental Federation, said, “Those that don’t learn from the past are damned to repeat it. We need to do that here, learn from Sandy, improve on the previous flawed standards and lax building restrictions and more, to better protect people, property, and the environment from extreme weather and climate disruption. Given the human suffering, destruction of natural and economic resources, and cost to taxpayers from Sandy, we can’t afford not to.”
Following principles designed for more environmentally-sound coastal restoration is necessary because climate change and rising sea levels are a reality, making more significant weather events more likely to happen more frequently, said Dr. Emile DeVito, Manager of Science and Stewardship, NJ Conservation Foundation.
“And it won’t take a Sandy to cause flooding,” he added. “We won’t need a big storm because the sea level will be higher.
“Sea level rise is accelerating, at least 4½ feet higher by 2100,” DeVito said. “A warmer ocean is increasing the frequency of powerful storms. We must embrace these facts to sustain the built and natural resources of our coastline and floodplains. A regional, science-based, strategic retreat in the highest risk areas, with development of new parks and wetlands, must be coupled with defense of crucial re-built environments. Our responses to Sandy and Irene must be compatible with the long-term view of the ocean and rivers of the 22nd century.”
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