Superstorm Sandy Just The Beginning Of Steadily Rising Waters

Good Luck Point the "canary in the coal mine" for Berkeley Township

by Patricia A. Miller

Almost a year and a half after Superstorm Sandy roared into the waterfront sections of Berkeley, many are still struggling to recover.

And for those who think Sandy was a fluke, and couldn't happen again, you are  wrong.

That's one of the conclusions reached in an ominous report prepared by the Berkeley Township Waterways Advisory Commission and presented to the Township Council recently.

"As time goes on with rising sea levels, and subsidence and increased frequency and intensities of Atlantic coastal storms, tidal flooding will get increasingly worse," the report states.

The riverfront and bayfront sections of Berkeley already flood during Nor'easters and unusually high tides. And it's going to get worse. The report cites a number of factors for the rising waters the township can expect.

Bayside flooding on both the mainland and barrier island is the result of uneven bulkhead heights and backflow from existing storm drains.

And declining groundwater due to population growth is literally causing New Jersey to sink - a geological process known as subsidence. More and more water is drawn from aquifers for use, then treated and sent through outfall pipes into the ocean.

"It never gets replaced to its original aquifer," the report states. "As the water volume decreases, the land begins to sink."

All those factors, combined with increasing storms from rising ocean temperatures, spell trouble for Berkeley's waterfront areas.

And when Sandy slammed ashore on Oct. 29, 2012, the storm "severely compromised" the dunes at Island Beach State Park, which puts Berkeley "at the mercy of the next superstorm, the report states.

"Various measures have been under consideration to increase protection against oceanfront inundations, but these improvements will not less the storm water inundation from the bayside with sea level rise and extreme high tides, combined with Nor'easters," according to the report.

Commission members relied on data from a variety of sources, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rutgers University, NOAA Coastal Services Center, the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Grant F. Walton Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis.

The consortium of groups created two models, one with a one-foot rise in sea level, one with a two-foot rise in sea level. The inundation charts - with the light blue areas signifying flooded areas, are alarming.

By 2060, Bayview Avenue, Good Luck Point and sections of South Seaside Park will be underwater during normal high tides, according to the charts.

"At that rate, infrastructure planning has to start now in order to adapt and be more resilient to future water levels that will be inevitable."

The report pays special attention to the Good Luck Point section of the township off Bayview Avenue. Small homes built decades ago on slabs were decimated by Sandy's storm surge.

"Good Luck Point is Berkeley Township's canary in the coal mine," the report states. "Good Luck Point is the lowest laying area with the most repetitive flood losses in the township."

The report offers a number of recommendations. They include:

Asking the Ocean County Board of Freeholders to consider sea level rise when reconstructing Bayview Avenue.

Consider raising the elevations of Dorrance Drive, Sand Street and Good Luck Drive in Good Luck Drive.

Have the Township Engineer certify conditions of bulkheads for certificates of compliance instead of the Construction Code Official.

Revise the decades-old bulkhead ordinance and set a minimal height.

Consider using "Tide Flex Valves" to prevent abnormally high tides from backing up into drainage systems.

Use dredge spoils from lagoons and navigation channels to create salt marshes to buffer against storm surges.

Ask the governor and the Board of Public Utilities to put electric lines underground, to minimize outages during severe storms.

Use local shelters with backup generators for Berkeley residents, instead of relying on inadequate regional shelters.

Obtain adequate flood rescue vehicles.

Partner with Berkeley township gas stations to help volunteer stations set up emergency generators during power outages.

"We must develop a long-range vision and adapt strategies to preserve the future potential of our waterfront," the report states.

What do you think of the predictions and strategies in the report? Tell us in the comments section below.

Bill Weber June 03, 2014 at 05:32 AM
Has anyone seen Chicken Little?
Mortimer Snerd June 03, 2014 at 06:01 AM
But Fox News and Gov. Christie say there's no such thing as climate change...
Jeff F June 03, 2014 at 06:38 AM
Finally a story not about heroin.
Phitins Phan June 03, 2014 at 07:34 AM
From Global Warming to Climate Change to Climate Disturbances to Now DUNES of DOOM...Anything to Scare the People into Voting to Keep this Ponzi Scheme Going... "Dude" its the SHORE, the Tip and Ridge of the Ocean...You want yo Live Here....NEWS FLASH....Sometimes Storms Will Come and Create Flooding....DUH...!
seasoned-and-reasoned June 03, 2014 at 09:27 AM
"As time goes on with rising sea levels, and subsidence and increased frequency and intensities of Atlantic coastal storms, tidal flooding will get increasingly worse," Just where, in what science journal did the author get actual EMPIRICAL evidence that the levels of water in Barnegat Bay have risen??? As the article states "...declining groundwater due to population growth is literally causing New Jersey to sink..." which shows that the state may be SINKING, not that the waters are rising!! Give me empirical evidence, not evidence drawn from models that are nothing more than guesses of what "may" occur in the future, but real evidence that water levels have risen and will continue to do so. Please stop with the fear-mongering and the Chicken Little, doomsday predictions that are designed only for the propagation of a theory that keeps what would otherwise be unemployed scientists employed at the taxpayers expense.


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