Could Hoboken become a national model for storm resiliency?

NJTV: All of New Jersey was slammed by Superstorm Sandy, but Hoboken took it on the chin. Two-thirds of the city lies in FEMA’s flood zone and most of the city’s water infrastructure dates back a century or more. The storm surge from the sea, combined with torrential rains from the sky, flooded the combined sewer system that overflowed into the harbor. It’s Hoboken that could be a national model of re-engineering in the face of climate change with a combination of hard and soft protections.

Jennifer Gonzales is city’s director of environmental services. The city has attached 10,000 gallon cisterns to collect rainwater. Water runs through pipes and goes into rain gardens that absorb the water before it can enter the sewer lines. Even the central plaza’s concrete pavers and gravel absorb water.

“So as we keep more rain water out of our combined sewer system, it reduces the likelihood of flooding, as well as the likelihood of combined sewer overflow events. So it protects water quality as well,” said Gonzales.

Hoboken has also turned parking lots into playgrounds with the same permeable pavers and planters that store stormwater. It’s set over a maze of pipes that flow into underground cisterns that keep water from seeping into sewers. Parks like this are being replicated all over town.

“The parks as defense strategy ties into the bigger project, Rebuild by Design project, which is a four-part water management strategy,” said Caleb Stratton, Hoboken’s chief resiliency officer.

The strategy: resist the water, delay its release, store it, and discharge when it can do the least damage.

“In total between partnerships and acquisitions, the city intends to spend about $140 million on different park acquisition and development projects that provide that delay and store part of the comprehensive strategy. And then the state of New Jersey and the federal government are contributing $230 million to the resist feature to reduce coastal storm surge,” said Stratton. Read more>>