Jersey City, Hoboken and Weehawken are susceptible to both flash flood and storm surge. As integrated urban environments, discreet one-house-at-a-time solutions do not make sense. What is required is a comprehensive approach that acknowledges the density and complexity of the context, galvanizes a diverse community of beneficiaries, and defends the entire city, its assets and citizens.
Our comprehensive urban water strategy deploys programmed hard infrastructure and soft landscape for coastal defense (resist); policy recommendations, guidelines, and urban infrastructure to slow rainwater runoff (delay); a circuit of interconnected green infrastructure to store and direct excess rainwater (store); and water pumps and alternative routes to support drainage (discharge).
Our approach is framed by a desire to understand and quantify flood risk. In doing so, we are better positioned to identify those opportunities that present the greatest impact, the best value, and the highest potential — our areas of focus. Our objectives are to manage water―for both disaster and for long-term growth; enable reasonable flood insurance premiums―through the potential redrawing of the FEMA flood zone; and deliver co-benefits―that enhance our cities. These are replicable innovations that can help guide our communities on a sustainable path to living with water.
1. Resist: Programmed hard infrastructure and soft landscape for coastal defense
2. Delay: Policy recommendations, guidelines, and urban infrastructure to slow rainwater runoff
3. Store: A circuit of interconnected green infrastructure to store and direct excess rainwater
4. Discharge: Water pumps & alternative routes to support drainage
Resist: Defense against storm surge is primarily a question of elevation. The height of flood defense measures is determined by an extreme water level analysis, which is based on storm surge water levels to defend against—in this case, a one-in-500-year storm surge water level—and expected sea-level rise.
Delay, Store: Flash flooding from rainfall occurs when rainwater overwhelms the capacity of the drainage system—water goes in faster than it can come out—the intended level of defense against this systemic seasonal flooding is a one-in-ten year flood level.
Delay strategies act like a sponge by slowing rainwater down. This slower rate of flow gives more time for the drainage to do its job.
Store strategies temporarily take excess water out of the drainage system. This water can later be returned once the system has recovered capacity.
Discharge: While Delay and Store address water going in, Discharge strategies address water going out—removing water from the system. Additional pumps, and alternative drainage routes, increase the rate in which this can occur.
Together, these complementary strategies provide a robust, cost effective, system of defense that no single strategy can deliver.
At Weehawken Cove, a park landscape serves as a defensive wall, protecting Hoboken, Weehawken, and critical regional utilities from storm surge. Wetlands provide a natural filter, mitigating potential Combined Sewer Overflow events. Both enhance recreational amenities for the community and future development. Along Washington Street green infrastructure measures—such as permeable paving, rain gardens, and bioswales―help manage the city’s surface water and reduce the risk of flash flooding from rain; whilst enhancing the cityscape. Along the extents of the Hoboken Light Rail, otherwise discreet rainwater storage initiatives are connected to make a green circuit. This system serves as the foundations of a parallel green drainage infrastructure; reducing the risk of flash flooding from rain, filtering and cleaning storm water and serving as a park for the community.
Our proposal results in a continuous, defended, New Jersey Shoreline; and a sustainable path to living with water.