The Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA) is pleased to announce the results of the past round of grants under its Municipal Resilience Grant Program. The municipalities of Milford, New Haven, and Waterford and the Northwest Hills and Western Connecticut Council of Governments have been awarded funds to pursue projects that will not only increase their own local resilience, but also serve as learning tools for other communities hoping to replicate their success. CIRCA is pleased to provide grants to support the projects.
Several important criteria were considered by the CIRCA Executive Steering Committee when considering applications including the following:
- Does the proposed project enhance community resilience to the impacts of climate change and extreme weather?
- Does the proposed project have transferable results?
- Does the proposed project involve collaboration with CIRCA?
- Does the proposed project have measurable goals?
- Will the proposed project be completed in an 18-month timescale?
- Does the proposed project have multiple funding sources
- Does the proposed project emphasize implementation?
Based on the above criteria, funding was awarded to the following projects:
City of Milford – Developing and Implementing a Restoration and Management Plan to Combat Threats and Challenges to Coastal Dune Resiliency in Urban Landscapes
With 17.5 miles of coast, the City of Milford has the longest shoreline in the state. This coastline was severely impacted in both storms Irene and Sandy. To address the impacts of the storms, the City proposed restoring a degraded dune in a high-traffic area and developing a plan for post-restoration management of the dune. The goal of this living shorelines approach is to restore the natural buffering capacity of the dune to storms like Irene and Sandy, making the City more resilient to future events. The restored dune will be located in what is now known as the Walnut Beach area. The project will involve removing invasive plant species and replanting with those that are native. The City of Milford hopes that creating a dune demonstration site in this region will serve as a model for other similar projects in Milford and in other coastal towns and cities.
This project also features a strong public engagement component. The City will provide educational opportunities for citizens and visitors alike to learn about dune restoration and enhancement and about living shorelines activities more generally. This project involves a direct partnership with the Walnut Beach Association with support from the Connecticut Sea Grant and the Long Island Sound Study Outreach Program.
City of New Haven – New Haven Industrial Toolbox
The City of New Haven is a coastal town with repetitive flooding problems. In response to frequent flooding, the City organized the Program for Public Information, a committee charged with making recommendations to help address flooding issues. One recommendation of the committee was to create and implement the New Haven Commercial Industrial Toolbox (CIT). The CIT will enhance the resilience of the City’s commercial infrastructure to flooding and sea level rise by serving as a guidebook for the necessary steps all owners should take before a flooding event occurs. When complete, the CIT will be a manual that 1) protects people and property from flooding; 2) ensures that federal flood insurance and disaster assistance are available; 3) save tax dollars; 4) avoid liability and lawsuits; and 5) reduce future flood losses.
The CIT is highly transferable to other municipalities in Connecticut that are adversely impacted by flooding and sea level rise. Once the CIT is developed, the City of New Haven will collaborate with CIRCA to distribute the CIT throughout the state.
Northwest Hills Council of Governments – Building Municipal Resilience and Climate Adaptation through Low Impact Development
With flooding, erosion, and sedimentation becoming an increasing concern for Northwest Connecticut towns, the Northwest Hills Council of Governments (NHCOG) proposed the creation and adoption of a Low Impact Development (LID) Design Manual. The LID Design Manual will include the specific information needed by engineers and project designers to successfully construct LID projects. Additionally, the LID practices described and promoted in the manual will serve to increase the resilience of Connecticut’s small towns by protecting their drinking water supplies and other water resources, improving their water quality within watersheds, protecting agricultural resources, and protecting the built human environment from flooding. When complete, this manual may be used in any town in Connecticut. The applicant has leveraged financial support from several sources, including the Town of Morris, the Community Foundation of Northwest Connecticut, the Connecticut Community Foundation, and the Bantam Lake Protective Association.
Town of Waterford – Waterford Municipal Infrastructure Resilience Project
Through a recent workshop, facilitated by the Nature Conservancy, the Town of Waterford identified their sewer pump stations as potentially highly vulnerable to impacts from flooding and sea level rise. The town’s Waterford Municipal Infrastructure Resilience Project is a two-part project that will assess the vulnerabilities of the sewer pumps stations as well as include an analysis of drainage at Gardiners Wood Road. CIRCA is pleased to fund the sewer pump station assessment and adaptation portion of the project. Under this assessment the Town will conduct an inventory of sewer pump stations in the Special Flood Hazard Area (the FEMA 100-year floodplain). The Town will then create a list of priority actions and cost estimates to reduce each sewer pump station’s present and future vulnerability. This portion of the Town’s project will create a replicable process that can be applied to other sewer pump stations within Waterford as well as other Connecticut municipalities. This is a key first step in addressing the vulnerabilities of the sewer pump stations in the town. Wastewater treatment plant systems are considered critical infrastructure that are often at risk from flooding throughout Connecticut.
Western Connecticut Council of Governments – Regional CRS Program
In order to stem the high cost of flooding to home and business owners, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers flood insurance in communities that comply with basic floodplain management standards through the National Flood Insurance Program. Communities may choose to enter into the National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating System (CRS) in order to reduce the cost of flood insurance premiums for their property owners. Communities participating in the CRS go above and beyond the minimum standards and, depending on their level of mitigation efforts, they can garner insurance premium reductions from 5-45%. In this project, the Western Connecticut Council of Governments will take steps to create a regional CRS program to assist communities within Western Connecticut as they undertake the challenging CRS program. Establishing this program will provide flood resiliency benefits for the Western Connecticut region and may be used as a model throughout Connecticut. CIRCA will provide assistance for the Regional CRS kickoff meeting, outreach, training, data gathering, and analysis. Additional funds pledged by the Western Connecticut Council of Governments will further provide support for development of the Regional CRS Program.