In the years since Superstorm Sandy, the NJDEP and Governor Murphy’s office have worked tirelessly to help the state recover from its costliest natural disaster and to help communities better prepare for extreme weather that is projected to worsen in the years ahead.  Today, the DEP is engaged in a multipronged effort to mitigate threats from sea-level rise, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change and to build the state’s resilience against future storms.

“We are not yet ready. But, empowered by sound science and a willingness to make wise changes, we can get ready and help our communities, residents, and businesses become more resilient to the continuing climate changes that lie ahead.”

NJDEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette

New Jersey’s network of climate and flood resilience solutions

There is no one single solution that will protect New Jersey or any one community from the impacts of climate change and extreme weather. There is, however, a network of solutions. If pursued together and consistently over time, these solutions will promote community resilience and better protect people, property, and our economy from adverse climate impacts.

Joseph G. Minish Passaic River Waterfront Park is one example of federal, state, and local government working together complete a multi-benefit flood control project to make the state more resilient.

This network of climate and flood resilience solutions includes each of the following components, and more information on each is available below:

Identifies a community’s climate vulnerabilities and establishes actions that will increase resilience.

Holistic climate resilience planning will enable communities to identify where financial resources are best deployed, including areas in which flood infrastructure, stormwater improvements or Blue Acres buyouts would be best positioned in a given community.​

Climate Change Resilience Strategy​

As directed by Executive Order No. 89 , New Jersey’s first statewide Climate Change Resilience Strategy was released on October 12, 2021. The strategy includes recommendations to promote the long-term mitigation, adaptation, and resilience of New Jersey’s economy, communities, infrastructure and natural resources throughout the State.​

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Resilient NJ​​

Decisions about zoning, redevelopment, housing, open space, and other investment decisions made by local and regional governments will alter the impacts of climate change in our communities. Integrating climate change into these decisions, and all local and regional planning efforts is imperative to ensure that investments made today are designed to withstand the conditions of tomorrow.

Resilient NJ is an assistance program to support local and regional climate resilience planning. Using the best available science on precipitation, temperature, and sea-level rise, Resilient NJ can help your community plan for how the changing climate may affect residents, businesses, and the natural and built environments in your area.

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Resilience Planning Toolkit​​

This guidance is a resource for individuals who represent, work or volunteer for a municipal or county government in New Jersey to understand how their community can proactively plan for the changing climate and build resilience into their local governance. Communities that utilize this guidance can meet their obligations for the Municipal Land Use Law requirements, state Hazard Mitigation Plan requirements and Plan Endorsement requirements. The toolkit also will help communities to integrate equity considerations into climate resilience planning. ​

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Updating flood protection and environmental land use standards to respond to New Jersey’s changing climate.


In 2020, Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 100 and former DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe issued Administrative Order No. 1, requiring the NJDEP to begin a regulatory reform effort to help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) and other climate pollutant emissions while making our natural and built environments more resilient to the impacts of climate change that are now unavoidable. ​

NJPACT is comprised of two main initiatives:​

  1. Climate Pollutant Reduction (CPR)​
    Reducing greenhouse gas emissions requires a wide range of strategies, from regulatory reform to voluntary programs. The Department’s CPR effort encompasses various sectoral approaches to drive down emissions.​
  2. Resilient Environments and Landscapes (REAL)​
    Modernizing environmental land use rules to facilitate climate resilience and protect all New Jersey’s communities by incorporating the best available scientific data on climate risks such as sea level rise and inland flooding. ​

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Inland Flood Protection Rule​

The Inland Flood Protection Rule would ensure that areas at most significant risk are better defined and that new and reconstructed assets in these areas are designed and constructed using the best available climate-informed precipitation data. Using the best available data is critical to protecting New Jersey’s assets, economy and, above all, our people from the catastrophic effects of worsening floods.

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Establishing stormwater utilities, upgrades of existing hard infrastructure, and deployment of new green infrastructure.

Establishing Stormwater Utilities​

In March 2019, the Stormwater Utility Law, officially known as the Clean Stormwater and Flood Reduction Act, was signed into law. This Act authorizes local and county governments, and certain utilities, to create stormwater utilities. A stormwater utility is a public utility that assesses fees and uses the revenue from these fees to operate, maintain and upgrade infrastructure designed to control stormwater flooding and reduce pollutants from entering waterbodies. ​DEP has since developed a stormwater utility toolkit to guide local or regional governments in establishing stormwater utilities. DEP is also making financial support available to communities that choose to adopt this important tool.

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Upgrading Existing Hard Infrastructure​

Protecting and enhancing New Jersey’s water infrastructure is vital to the State’s health and economy. While often taken for granted, significant planning and investment is required to sustain and improve New Jersey’s aging infrastructure systems. As precipitation increases, older infrastructure will require upgrades to ensure that systems can carry stormwater from the storms of today and the future away from people and property. To assist New Jersey communities in meeting this challenge, DEP launched the Water Infrastructure Investment Plan, which will make hundreds of millions of dollars available to communities annually.

Infrastructure needs assessments and capital planning that charts a course for necessary stormwater improvements are crucial to successful grant and loan applications.

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Using Green Infrastructure​ to Manage Stormwater ​

Green stormwater infrastructure refers to methods of stormwater management that reduce wet weather/stormwater volume, flow, or changes the characteristics of flow into combined or separate sanitary or storm sewers, or surface waters, by allowing the stormwater to infiltrate into the soil where it can be used by plants or where it can recharge aquifers and stream baseflow.​

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Includes large civil works projects (e.g., tide gates, flood walls) that reduce flood risks, and nature-based solutions such as coastal dune systems, marsh restoration, and living shorelines.

The Division of Resilience, Engineering, and Construction (DREC) oversees large-scale coastal and fluvial flood protection projects, beach renourishment, flood risk analysis, dam safety, and the National Flood Insurance Program. DREC aims to assist communities across New Jersey in becoming more resilient to storms, flooding, and other climate change impacts. DREC also places an emphasis on community engagement and environmental justice to facilitate projects that benefit New Jersey today and tomorrow.

Major resilience projects include:

Getting people out of harm’s way through the acquisition of repeatedly damaged or at-risk property that can be adapted for flood storage and other communal purposes.

In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, thousands of New Jersey homeowners turned to Blue Acres, the state-led flood buyout program, to sell their vulnerable, storm-damaged properties and move their families out of harm’s way. By offering pre-storm value to willing sellers, Blue Acres gave homeowners an opportunity to sell properties that had lost significant value due to the unprecedented natural disaster. Blue Acres has adapted to the evolving needs of homeowners and sources for buyout funding, becoming a nationally recognized leader in the response to climate change.

In the 10 years since the storm, Blue Acres has acquired more than 350 acres of flood-prone land from willing sellers, demolished the structures and preserved the space in perpetuity for natural flood storage, parkland and other community benefits. To achieve this, Blue Acres secured and utilized hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding, while conservatively leveraging dedicated State monies from the Garden State Preservation Trust. As of August 2022, post-Sandy buyouts have tapped approximately $126 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and approximately $77 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant—Disaster Recovery Program.

Across the state, Blue Acres has made 1,134 buyout offers, closed on 802 properties and completed demolition of 739 properties. Buyout communities include Pleasantville, Atlantic County; New Milford, Bergen County; Medford, Pemberton and Southampton, Burlington County; Downe and Lawrence townships, Cumberland County; Newark, Essex County; East Brunswick, Old Bridge, Sayreville, South River and Woodbridge, Middlesex County; Keansburg, Ocean Township and Manalapan, Monmouth County; Manville, Somerset County; Pompton Lakes, Passaic County; and Linden and Rahway, Union County.

The Blue Acres program is currently accepting applications from homeowners whose homes are storm-damaged or vulnerable to flooding.

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