NEWARK, N.J. — The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) awarded the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) a $289,000 grant to investigate alternative measures for flood mitigation in the Hackensack/Moonachie/Little Ferry area. The effort will enhance rather than duplicate any on-going efforts by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other organizations. NJIT’s newest center, the Flood Mitigation Engineering Resource Center, will handle the work.

“This is an important preventative project for New Jersey,” said co-principal investigator Taha Marhaba, Ph.D., P.E., chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “Our objective as a NJIT team of inter-disciplinary experts is to help the State of New Jersey to develop the best solutions to protect its citizens from future floods through innovative engineering measures that are doable, beneficial, resilient, and sustainable.”

Infrastructure engineer and co-principal investigator Fadi Karaa, Ph.D., noted that the area, which involves New Jersey’s Meadowlands, which is less than two feet above sea level, has always been on an environmental watch list in part due to its location and inherent vulnerability to flooding. Additionally, not unlike much of the nation’s infrastructure, its flood protection structures and flood mitigation assets need significant improvement, rehabilitation, and reconstruction, as part of a multi-hazard multi-faceted comprehensive strategy. This strategy, which aims to make the communities safer and more resilient, will be derived from evaluating exposure to all flood hazards, including historical storms and a possible dam break, and recommending the most cost-effective portfolio of flood mitigation measures.

The six-month project will involve assessment of the flood impacts and evaluate a range of capital improvements, maintenance and operations and regulatory measures, including structural and non-structural engineering alternatives, zoning, code and system design, and redundancy measures. The evaluation will also include hydraulic modeling, environmental, risk, and socio-economic impacts, including estimated costs.

In its data collection, model development, infrastructure analysis, and strategy development efforts, NJIT is interfacing with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers North Atlantic Division, and a range of state, regional, and local organizations such as the Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute and local municipalities. As part of the storm modeling and hydraulic analysis, NJIT is partnering with the National Center for Computational Hydroscience and Engineering at the University of Mississippi, an internationally renowned center for flood simulation and hydrodynamics.

Care will be taken to enhance rather than duplicate any on-going efforts by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other organizations. The focus can easily include other areas (e.g., Hudson River/Hoboken and Barnegat Bay), however, the approach is portable to the other two regions and possibly other regions.

The NJIT team brings together a unique team to help solve the listed problems through best practices, new creative solutions, and not reinventing the wheel, added Marhaba. “NJIT, the state’s premier technological institution, is committed to the state’s needs, and in protecting public and environmental health while fostering economic development. Many people are not aware of this, but NJIT is responsible for generating a quarter of the professional engineers in the State of New Jersey. NJIT’s Newark College of Engineering (NCE) has been one of the early innovators in engineering education and research and has gained a national reputation for graduating pioneers and leaders in various engineering fields.”

The majority of the faculty members in the department of civil and environmental engineering, the largest department of its kind in the state, are licensed professional engineers by the State of New Jersey and collectively have had a leadership role in numerous projects funded by the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, N.J. Department of Transportation (NJDOT), and NJDEP, among others.

Their expertise in design and engineering is well known, and encompasses structural, geotechnical, environmental, hydrologic, hydraulic, transportation, critical infrastructure systems, and geographical information systems (GIS)/remote sensing. Many have worked with the local communities to service and advance their well-being. The NJIT team is committed to working with the NJDEP to provide the optimal solutions in support of the state’s strategic plan.