Vital Wetlands

Feb 27, 2019

To the Editor:

As a water resources and environmental engineer, I am very concerned about and opposed to the application for the development of Bayview Park for the following reasons.

Wetlands provide valuable flood control. Long Beach Township is especially vulnerable to flooding, and with all the recent development, there has been an alarming increase in impervious surfaces leading to a significant increase in stormwater runoff. Wetlands are highly effective stormwater management tools. They prevent flooding by temporarily storing and slowly releasing stormwater.

Locations with salt marshes have significantly lower annual flood losses compared to locations without marshes. Wetlands reduce water flow, thus allowing sediments and associated pollutants to settle out. Stormwater runoff from parking lots, roads, roofs and other surfaces contain significant quantities of sediment, and nutrients such as phosphorus, and nitrogen.

When water bodies, such as the bay, become overloaded with nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, large blooms of algae and aquatic plants can occur. As the algae and plants decompose, it depletes the oxygen levels in the water, creating unsuitable conditions for fish survival. Wetlands, however, help prevent this type of eutrophication by absorbing and filtering these nutrients.

Wetlands provide protection from coastal storms. Wetlands act as buffers against storm surge and absorb wave energy, which reduces erosion. Additionally, the roots of wetland vegetation hold soils in place, further reducing coastal erosion.

The economic value of coastal wetlands is extremely significant. In a study titled “The Value of Coastal Wetlands for Flood Damage Reduction in the Northeastern USA,” published in 2017, the wetlands in New Jersey are estimated to have reduced damages from Superstorm Sandy by an average of 27 percent, or nearly $430 million. This is even more significant considering wetlands only make up 10 percent of the total floodplain in the state.

Preserving wetlands is in the best interest of both the residents and the township. The benefits of flood control, coastal storm protection, water quality and damage cost savings clearly outweigh any benefit from an additional and unnecessary parking lot.

Marguerite Krasnicki

Norfolk, Va., and Brant Beach

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