Saturday, August 30, 2008

Waves of change in New Jersey's flood map

The Daily Record (New Jersey): The Federal Emergency Management Agency is updating New Jersey's flood maps, showing which areas are most at risk when the next big storm hits. These map revisions come as climate-change experts are predicting more frequent and severe storms.

Because flooding occurs where land and water meet, which adds up to a lot of places in this state we're in, the updated flood maps are both a new tool and a new opportunity to use land more wisely. The maps outline the geography of floodplains, and serve as the basis for state, county and local land-use regulations and emergency management plans. They also determine which property owners need to buy flood insurance, and what rates will apply.

Three years ago, the flood maps were outdated and didn't reflect real-world conditions. In 2005, FEMA began a congressionally-mandated modernization initiative to bring the maps and the mapping process into the digital age…..The update has been contentious in coastal Monmouth, where thousands of additional homes may be included in the flood zone; residents are filing comments and appeals ahead of a September deadline.

…But will our elected officials and state regulators make the all-important connection between this new data and what it tells us about sound land use decisions? Protecting watershed lands and keeping sprawl away from our streams and rivers is the surest way to fight flooding and pollution….

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