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Vincent Mazzei, Jr., P.E.
Assistant Commissioner
Watershed & Land Management
401 East State Street
Trenton, NJ 08625
PH: (609) 292-2178
FX: (609) 633-0750

NJ Department of Environmental Protection
Division of Dam Safety & Flood Engineering
Bureau of Flood Engineering
Mail Code 501-01A
501 East State Street
PO Box 420
Trenton, NJ 08625-0420

New Jersey Guidebook for Implementing the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard


The NFIP State Coordinator's Office has developed a draft guidebook for the implementation of the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard. 

Two recent FEMA polices were released on June 3, 2022 and December 7, 2022 which affect the design flood elevations for projects funded with Federal Public Assistance and Mitigation funding. Together with FEMA’s policy on the use of available flood hazard information, a federal minimum standard has been established which adds additional freeboard above FEMA’s Base Flood Elevation (BFE) mapping. It is anticipated that other Federal agencies will update their regulations in the future to comply with these policies. 

Recognizing that these policy changes may sometimes conflict with State and local floodplain regulations, the New Jersey NFIP State Coordinator’s Office has developed a draft guidebook for projects implemented using Federal disaster recovery and hazard mitigation funds which are constructed, retrofitted, relocated, or floodproofed in New Jersey. All projects proposing to utilize Federal funding must be constructed in cooperation and compliance with applicable Federal, State, and Local Floodplain Management regulations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to receive reimbursement funds.

The objective of this document is to ensure that new projects in the floodplain do not increase flooding or flood damage and are fully compliant with all applicable Federal, State, and local floodplain regulations. This guidebook includes a discussion of project applicability, best available data, wave height calculations, critical action and other related definitions including “non-critical action”, and determining accurate design flood elevations. It includes helpful flowcharts, tables, and checklists for compliant project implementation and mitigation activities. It also includes an updated Local Design Flood Elevation and Determining Wave Height worksheets which are established by local Floodplain Administrators having jurisdiction over new construction and substantially improved structures.

The NFIP State Coordinator's Office is concerned that confusion surrounding these policies may impact the reimbursement.  The following technical concerns have an impact on project compliance and should be addressed during project design: 

  • State and local freeboard requirements in coastal areas may be lower than the FFRMS policy, resulting in non-critical action projects which are built too low for Federal reimbursement.

  • Project designers may not be aware that neither the preliminary or effective FEMA 500-year Base Flood Elevations (BFEs) include a wave run up or set up, necessitating a wave height analysis for critical facilities in coastal areas. Failure to properly evaluate the impacts of waves may impact Federal reimbursement.

  • Project designers may not be aware of the requirement to determine the State's Flood Hazard Area Design Flood Elevation (FHADFE) areal extent or factor of safety and the requirement to consider higher local floodplain standards when determining design flood elevations in riverine areas. Projects built below the FHADFE and any higher Local Design Flood Elevation (LDFE) may be subject to State or local enforcement actions.

This guidebook is released as a draft for comment which reflects the Flood Hazard Area Control Act and NFIP regulations as of January, 2023.  Interested parties are encouraged to email with any comments on the Guidebook. 


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Last Updated: January 9, 2023