What is a floodplain?
Often we think of floodplains as a nuisance to development, since they can complicate our building processes. However, Longport's floodplain is also an incredibly valuable resource for our community.
But what is a floodplain? Great question! Floodplains are areas adjacent to bodies of water that flood during periods where water levels rise (like during/after storms, during high tides, etc…). As a result, they are highly dynamic and constantly changing ecosystems that have a variety of social and ecological functions such as:
- Recreation. The wetlands, beaches, and riparian areas that surround us are important community amenities. Birdwatches, hikers, beach-goers alike regularly enjoy the recreational opportunities that our floodplain provides.
- Agriculture and fishing. Because floodplains are highly dynamic, they play a crucial factor in replenishing nutrients in our soils. In many parts of the country, the fertile soils found in floodplains create ideal conditions for farming. Coastal floodplains play an important role in maintaining the health of our fisheries.
- Wildlife Habitat. Waterfowl, fish, and other coastal/riverine critters populate our floodplains, where they breed, feed, and interact.
- Water Quality Maintenance and Groundwater Recharge. Floodplains act as a filtration system for water entering into our watersheds. They also have the capacity to store water when there’s too much of it and distribute it to our aquifers.
- Warning. Because floodplains are sensitive indicators of change. They are immensely valuable in alerting us to changes in our natural environment.
Protecting our floodplain
While floodplains are immensely important, they’re also delicate. They work as part of larger systems that are inclusive of surface water and watersheds across large areas. If a single part of this system is disrupted, it can have wide-ranging implications for other areas. Additionally, our storm drainage system requires ongoing care. To insure its operability, the Borough of Longport Public Works Department has a stormwater maintenance program. The department inspects and cleans our inlets and basins twice yearly. Just as the borough does its part to maintain our water systems, as the residents of Longport, it is our responsibility to develop prudently and treat our floodplains with care. You can do your part in protecting our natural floodplains by keeping in mind the following:
- Don’t block culverts/tidegates.
- Don’t dump waste in or near waterways or storm drains. Borough ordinances prohibit the throwing, dumping, or discharge of debris and/or litter into our storm drains and gutters. Grass clippings, leaves, and small tree and shrub branches can accumulate and clog storm drains.
- Landscape appropriately. If you’re located near a waterway, consider using alternatives to pesticides and fertilizers.
- Protect our sand dunes. Stable sand dunes play an important part in protecting the coastline. They act as a buffer against wave damage during storms and protect the land behind from saltwater intrusion. The dunes also act as a reservoir of sand to replenish and maintain the beach at times of erosion. Frontal sand dunes are delicate and vulnerable to disruption. Vegetation can be destroyed by natural causes (such as storms) or by human interference. If vegetation cover is damaged, the dune system could migrate and lead to coastal recession. To avoid this, protecting the vegetation is vital.
- Let us know if you witness any illegal activities. It’s difficult to monitor our entire floodplain all the time. If you see illegal activity occurring, make sure to alert the appropriate department of the violation so that we can take action. If you see a clogged drain, call Public Works at (609) 822-5759.
- Develop responsibly. Our ordinances and regulations serve as protection mechanisms for our natural floodplains. By following our permitting process and abiding by our codes, you’re developing responsibly!