TRENTON – The Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will hold a meeting next week to gather input for a study aimed at evaluating ways to better protect back bays and other tidal coastal areas from storms and flooding.

The Army Corps of Engineers and the DEP are launching the three-year Back Bays Flood Risk Management feasibility study to assess a range of structural and nonstructural approaches to mitigate the impacts of storm surge and flooding from estuaries and other coastal water bodies 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1 at the Campus Center at Stockton University in Galloway, 101 Vera King Farris Drive.

The $3 million study was authorized by Congress, the cost is being shared by the DEP and the federal government. Once the study is completed, the Army Corps will issue a decision document with a recommended plan. After the plan is approved by Congress, design and construction will occur as funding is made available. The study was developed out of the Army Corps’ North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study, which was undertaken after Superstorm Sandy slammed the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast in October 2012.

The study area encompasses 950 square miles and nearly 3,400 miles of bays, rivers, creeks, lagoons, coastal lakes and other tidal shorelines in Atlantic, Burlington, Cape May, Ocean and Monmouth counties.

Strategies that are being explored include structural solutions such as storm surge barriers, tide gates, levees, floodwalls and drainage improvements. Also being evaluated are ecosystem-based solutions such as marsh restoration, beach and dune restoration, and creation of living shorelines, which are areas planted with native marsh grasses and shellfish to provide natural flood buffers.

“We strongly encourage the public, local officials and all stakeholders to attend this meeting to learn more about this important framework for the future,” said David Rosenblatt, DEP assistant commissioner for engineering and construction. “We recognize that protection of back bay and other tidal areas is not going to be a one-size-fits-all proposition, and that, in fact, multiple integrated strategies may be most appropriate in any given community or adjoining communities.”

All are welcome to provide feedback, help identify significant issues, and learn about the study process and status at the meeting, which will take place in the theater on the main level of the Campus Center. Free parking is available directly in front of the Campus Center at lots 2 and 3.

The Army Corps and DEP previously held workshops at Ocean County College and Stockton to introduce the study and solicit initial input.

The DEP has worked with the Army Corps in constructing a statewide system of engineered beaches and dunes as well as flood-control projects for coastal communities and inland waterways.

In response to Sandy, the DEP is financing projects that harden water and wastewater infrastructure and move willing homeowners from flood-prone areas. It is also conducting pilot studies of salt marsh restoration projects, implementing stricter elevation standards for houses built or rebuilt in coastal areas, and developing a major project to protect the Hudson River waterfront.

For information see nap.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/New-Jersey-Back-Bays-Coastal-Storm-Risk-Management/.

For information on DEP’s Engineering and Construction program see nj.gov/dep/ec/.