More Money Needed for NJ Coastal Protection [AUDIO]
"One thing we certainly learned from Sandy was that any future storm protection projects are going to be far more complex than we've ever encountered before," said Margot Walsh, executive director of the Jersey Shore Partnership.
The New Jersey Legislature allocates $25 million per year to the Shore Protection Fund, 65 percent of which is matched by federal dollars. However, it's not enough money to meet the anticipated needs of the future according to Walsh. "We know we're facing sea level rise, climate change and increasing development along the coast. All of these things are foretelling a serious problem for future beach preservation."
In addition, Walsh said the 2015 proposed federal budget for beach replenishment is the lowest it has been in the past decade. "We're facing a tug on both ends. A fund that needs to be replenished, and on the other side, we have to continue to advocate the federal government to understand the value of our coastline to the state's economy and to eventually the nation."
Walsh said projects already approved to be completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cannot be covered by New Jersey's $25 million dollar share. It also includes projects in the approval process.
Projects are needed as well to address rivers, streams and back bay waterways that are prone to flooding according to Walsh.
The Shore Protection Fund was created to guard public and private infrastructure and property against coastal storm damage, sea-level rise and erosion. Protection projects include beach replenishment and maintenance of bulkheads, jetties and seawalls.
Walsh said New Jersey's coastal front is an economic boon for the state. "Half the tourism revenue comes from the shore communities."