Why is Stormwater Increasing?

The ongoing impact of development and climate change are the two main reasons why stormwater runoff is increasing. As communities grow, new buildings, parking lots, and roads block the natural infiltration of stormwater causing flooding, water pollution, and property damage. In fact, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, New Jersey is the most developed state in the nation.

Climate change trends suggest that rainfall will continue to intensify. Citing over 50 years of data, the National Climate Assessment observed that there has been a 71% increase in the amount of precipitation falling in very heavy events in the northeastern United States. Echoing these findings, in 2018, New Jersey experienced its highest amount of rainfall on record. It’s no wonder that stormwater problems continue to intensify.  

Click here for NJDEP’s 2020 Scientific Report on Climate Change, which contains a wealth of information on New Jersey-specific data, including sea level rise and precipitation.

What Problems Does it Create?

Stormwater runoff negatively impacts the public health, safety, and economy in towns and cities all across New Jersey. Nearly 90 percent of our rivers, streams, and lakes are polluted, and 60 percent of this water pollution is due to stormwater runoff.   

Stormwater fouls our waters

When it flows over impervious (hard) surfaces, stormwater picks up oil, chemicals, pet waste, bacteria, sediment, and other pollutants. In many communities, it overwhelms the storm drain system, carrying these pollutants directly to streams, ponds, rivers, wetlands, and oceans, making them unsafe for people and for wildlife. 

Stormwater floods our communities

As development and impervious surfaces increase, natural absorption of rainfall decreases, creating even more stormwater runoff. This increased flow causes major flooding issues, damaging homes and businesses, shutting down roads and transit systems, and threatening drinking water and public safety.  

Stormwater hurts our economy

In addition to property damage from flooding, polluted stormwater causes harmful algal blooms, beach closures, shellfish bed contamination, habitat loss, property value decreases, loss of recreational usage, and business interruption. These negative impacts cost our country billions of dollars annually.  Hover over the photos below to learn what they look like.

Read on