This little stream seems the poster child for why there is a Flood Hazard Area Act. It drains a relatively large upland area. If not considered in the site design, a bunch of water would be flowing out from a culvert into someone’s house, yard, or parking lot, and maybe into their basement window. Whether or not it is connected to the Musconetcong River, there is occasionally a lot of water in this stream, and it can flood a large area of the farm fields.
February 4, 2016
We heard back from NJ DEP Flood Hazard Area Applicability Determination for the Hampton Farms LLC site (NJDEP Letter on FHA AD). Despite our submission of a map signed and sealed by a professional engineer showing the presence of regulated stream with a connection to the Musconetcong River, the DEP indicated that the stream channel was not regulated under the Flood Hazard Area Act because it was not connected to the Musconetcong River. NJ DEP staff did make site visits, but not during a rain event as far as we know.
They reference section 7.13-2.2(iii) as the reason for it not being regulated “The water is not connected to a regulated water by a channel or pipe, such as an isolated pond or depression that has no outlet” based upon the information submitted by Tony DiLodovico. The map that was submitted is below. Yes, this is the actual submission (OPRA FHA AD Map). It is a tiny map on half of an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper, the same as the one originally submitted. And guess what – it doesn’t even show the Musconetcong River!
Before the Flood Hazard Area Act rules changed in June last year, this stream would have had a direct connection to the Musconetcong River. The part connected to the Musconetcong was clearly shown on the USDA County Soil Survey Map. It’s not hard to see that the internment stream in the County Soil Map (below) links through the hedgerow to the channel shown on the FEMA Flood Map (second image below).
1974 USDA Hunterdon County Soil Survey
FEMA Flood Map from NJ DEP
With the Special Water Resource Protections removed, which allowed the use of the USDA County Soil Maps to show a stream location, there was no longer a mapped direct connection. Rather, each site now has to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. While the NJDEP said in their July 22, 2016 Administrative Order that “nothing in the June 20, 2016 rulemaking… is intended to relax the protections afforded to Category One waters” (NJDEP FHA AO, page 3) like the Musconetcong, DEP did relax the protections on this stream. There are a few ways of determining a Flood Hazard Area, including an engineering study at a 100 year flood event plus 25% of flow. We will look into the method DEP made its determination. We are looking into this further to determine next steps. Once we do, we’ll schedule an update meeting.
Now, if the stream disappears into the ground, perhaps due to sinkholes from the karst (dissolved limestone) topography, this could resent a challenge for seeking other approvals, such as storwmater permitting and permitting for the groundwater discharge sewer system. Karst is present throughout the site, as shown below.