(21 / P037) TRENTON – With New Jersey facing unprecedented threats of flooding and severe weather from climate change, the Murphy administration is making $ 45 million in low-interest loans available to county and local governments. municipalities as well as private dam owners for projects that will properly ensure these structures protect lives and property by complying with strict state dam safety standards.
The state is making $ 40 million in funding for dam rehabilitation projects under the state dam restoration loan program. An additional $ 5 million is provided through the Inland Waters Loan Program, which funds flood mitigation projects such as dredging and river restoration.
“New Jersey is committed to becoming more resilient in the face of unprecedented challenges of more frequent and intense weather and flooding,” said Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette. “This funding will allow owners of private and municipal dams to undertake environmental infrastructure projects that provide greater spillway capacity that is critical to public safety, especially as precipitation continues to become more severe due to of our changing climate. â
To be eligible, a project must be undertaken by a county or municipal government or related agency. Private dam owner projects are required to have a county or municipal government agreeing to be a co-applicant. The deadline for applications is December 30. For more information on loan applications and the DEP Dam Safety Office, visit www.nj.gov/dep/damsafety/
In New Jersey, most of the dams were built for recreation and / or water supply. Few are built strictly for flood control. It is the responsibility of dam owners to ensure that they are maintained and operated safely, in accordance with state standards. The loans currently available are aimed at assisting owners of dams classified as “fair” or “poor” and in need of structural safety improvements.
New Jersey is one of the few states that provides funds for dam upgrading and maintenance through periodic surety bonds that ensure a stable source of funding for these types of projects. Over the decades, DEP has provided nearly $ 180 million in funding under the two bond programs. The last round of funding took place in 2017.
The provision requiring county or municipal governments to be a co-applicant for private projects allows the respective governing body to levy taxes on the owners if the owner of the dam does not repay the loan. Loans are made available periodically as funding becomes available as previous loans are repaid.
New Jersey rates dams based on the potential for property damage and / or loss of life if the dam ruptures:
- Class I (high risk): Failure can result in death and / or significant material damage.
- Class II (significant risk): failure can cause significant material damage, but no loss of life is expected.
- Class III and smaller Class IV (low risk): Failure is not expected to result in loss of life or significant property damage.
In addition, DEP has the following rating system for current dam safety conditions:
- Satisfactory: No existing or potential shortcomings in dam safety are recognized. Acceptable performance is expected under all applicable loading conditions (static, hydrological, seismic) in accordance with applicable regulatory criteria. Minor maintenance items may be required.
- Fair: acceptable performance is expected under all required loading conditions (static, hydrological, seismic) in accordance with applicable dam safety regulatory criteria. Minor deficiencies may exist which require corrective action and / or secondary studies or investigations.
- Bad: A dam safety fault is recognized for any required load condition (static, hydrological, seismic) in accordance with the applicable dam safety regulatory criteria. Corrective action is needed. Bad also applies when further studies or critical investigations are needed to identify any potential failure in dam safety.
- Unsatisfactory: considered dangerous. A dam safety fault is recognized and requires immediate or emergency corrective action to resolve the problem. Tank restrictions may be necessary.
The DEP requires that high and significant risk dams be inspected every two years – annually for larger dams – and that measures be taken to ensure their safety. Upgrading them to current design standards typically requires a combination of spillway modifications and / or raising or “shielding” the earth embankments that typically line spillways. Shielding may include placing roller compacted concrete or pouring concrete to ensure that the backfill does not wash away and collapse if overflowed.
For more information on the actions taken by the state to address climate change, including the state’s first climate change resilience strategy and the first scientific report on climate change, visit www.nj.gov/dep/climatechange/
Follow Commissioner LaTourette on Twitter and Instagram @shawnlatur and follow DEP on Twitter @NewJerseyDEP
Photo DEP / Rehabilitation of the Solitude Lake Dam, 2012, High Bridge