The City of Hoboken, once an island in the Hudson River, is now the densely populated “mile square city.” In the 19th and 20th centuries, Hoboken was an industrial and transportation hub. More recently, Hoboken has become a residential outpost for New York City and other surrounding New Jersey cities.

Due to its location on the Hudson River and its natural history as a former tidal marsh, Hoboken is prone to flooding and is vulnerable to hurricanes. Increasing intensity and frequency of extreme weather and flooding exacerbate these water management challenges. Between July 2002 and July 2012, the City experienced precipitation of more than 2 inches and tides of 4 feet or higher on 26 occasions. In addition, the City—which has 98% impervious area—has an aging combined sewer system that is overtaxed and overflows during heavy rains.

To address its urban stormwater management challenges, the City installs localized green infrastructure designed to capture stormwater where it falls. As developed as part of the Rebuild by Design competition and program, Hoboken’s approach uses a 3-part strategy: (1) delay, (2) store, and (3) discharge. These 3 strategies are implemented on a city-wide basis, and the types of green infrastructure best management practices (BMPs) employed depend on the project’s location. The City’s strategic approach allows detention, infiltration, and retention to work together, increasing stormwater management benefits by employing specific green infrastructure in their most suitable locations and where it would provide the most cost-effective results.

Hoboken has installed, or is currently working to install, 3 core green infrastructure projects in public parks that are designed to delay stormwater runoff. In addition to these major projects, the City has installed 15 rain gardens, included green infrastructure elements in a recent urban revitalization project, built a green infrastructure demonstration project at City Hall, and dozens of urban stormwater tree and green roofs have been installed by property owners.

Since Hoboken has prioritized green infrastructure as an integral part of its stormwater and flooding management strategy over nearly the past decade, the City has already reaped multiple environmental, regulatory, economic, and social benefits. The City’s 3 major park projects capture at least 2,500,000 million gallons of stormwater. The City Hall project captures the 10-year storm event and keeps 47% of monthly rainfall runoff from the City Hall roof from entering the combined sewer system. This reduction in stormwater runoff of impervious areas builds flood resilience, extends the capacity of the City’s aging combined sewer system, and helps reduce sewer overflows that pollute local surface waters. These projects also aide the City’s development of and compliance with its Long-Term Control Plan aimed at reducing the occurrence of combined sewer overflows. Further, Hoboken strategically implements green infrastructure projects in designated Redevelopment Areas. Thus, implementation of green infrastructure in these areas has the greatest potential to address the areas frequently impacted by flooding and has the potential to significantly improve the of life for Hoboken’s most vulnerable residents.

From Hoboken, New Jersey, to Spanish Fork, Utah, as part of WaterNow’s Tap into Resilience initiative, WaterNow has interviewed over a dozen city and utility leaders already tapping into localized water strategies for fast, affordable, and impactful solutions to their water challenges. More details on Hoboken’s Tap into Resilience case study are available on WaterNow’s campaign website here. And we hope you will join us at our Tap into Resilience Summit in Philadelphia on April 15-16, 2020, to learn more about localized water solutions and connect with other water leaders from across the nation.

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