Municipal Resilience Grant Program Awarded Projects

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 and councils of governments listed below 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 has been awarded to the following projects under two different rounds of funding:

The following projects are listed in alphabetical order.

 Darien - Low Impact Development for Resilience Against Flooding, Storm Water, and Climate Change

Heights Road in Darien and commercial properties to the north frequently flood due to an undersized stream culvert beneath the road.  Run off from the adjacent Connecticut Department of Transportation train station parking lot also drains to Heights Road immediately to the north.  This flood mitigation project uses principles of Low Impact Development and consists of a combination of flood storage pipes beneath Heights Road and storage and infiltration structures with the fill beneath the nearby train station parking lot. The project addresses the needs of municipalities and businesses to reduce the impact of climate change and increased precipitation.  The two objectives of this project are:

  • To maximize the stormwater volume that is stored or infiltrated in order to provide greater flood resiliency to the existing stormwater system.
  • To develop a Design Guidance Checklist that will have application to other flooding sites in Connecticut and clearly define tasks needed to evaluate and design stormwater management in urban areas that may contain historical urban fill. This is a complex process that can be challenging given the sometimes conflicting technical and regulatory requirements.


East Lyme - Coastal Resilience, Climate Adaptation, and Sustainability Project

The Town of East Lyme seeks to enhance community sustainability and resilience to the impacts of climate change, sea level rise, and extreme weather by developing specific policies and recommendations for inclusion in the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development.  This CIRCA grant project will create a new Flood Ordinance and establish a Flood Commission made up of members from the Board of Selectman, Zoning Commission, Planning Commission, and local professionals such as engineers, surveyors, and insurance professionals. The project will also: 1) identify adequate freeboard requirements (or factors of safety expressed in feet above a flood level) and areas in need of increased safety in anticipation of sea level rise and climate change; 2) identify projects such as living shorelines within East Lyme that advance resiliency; and 3) update the town’s Geographic Information System mapping to incorporate Coastal A-Zones, municipal wastewater infrastructure, CIRCA site suitability for living shorelines, and other flooding data.  The project will build on recent work by The Nature Conservancy and also leverage completed CIRCA research projects.  Outcomes can be used as a model for other coastal communities and not only increase East Lyme’s resilience and sustainability by establishing sound land use policies and regulations, but may also improve the town’s community rating within the National Flood Insurance Program. 


Hartford - Green Infrastructure Specialist for a More Resilient and Sustainable Future

The City of Hartford received grant assistance from CIRCA to hire a Green Infrastructure Specialist for 12 months.  Hartford seeks this assistance in the context of its rigorous, comprehensive climate resiliency effort – the Climate Stewardship Initiative (CSI) – which aims to improve quality of life through environmental stewardship, while advancing the economy, improving public health, and promoting social equity.  Through the CSI, Hartford has collaborated with corporations, private foundations, and government agencies to make strides in five action areas (energy, land, transportation, waste, and water).  Of these five areas, the city has the least expertise and the most need in the area of water – specifically in managing stormwater.  The Green Infrastructure Specialist will help Hartford not only respond to threats of flooding, but also strategize proactively for the future by evaluating and advancing green infrastructure projects. 

March 2017 Product: Hartford Poster 03 17


MetroCOG – Designing Resilience: Living Shorelines for Bridgeport

The Connecticut Metropolitan Council of Governments (MetroCOG), in partnership with the City of Bridgeport and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) will develop preliminary, semi-final and final design plans for a living shoreline project at Bridgeport’s West Johnson Creek.  This project will advance design concepts from the existing National Fish and Wildlife Foundation-Department of Interior (NWF/DOI) funded Regional Framework for Coastal Resilience in Southern Connecticut, which supported the development of conceptual designs for coastal resiliency/living shoreline projects identified as “high priority” by local stakeholders. Construction-ready plans funded through this round of CIRCA’s Municipal Resilience Grant Program will position the Bridgeport project for future implementation.

Johnson’s Creek is located in Bridgeport’s East End, a distressed area that has suffered from disinvestment and past environmental degradation. Due to the area’s relatively low elevation, it is continually vulnerable to flooding. The NWF funded conceptual design will reduce the slope to allow vegetative stabilization and support potential wetland migration.  Other ecological benefits include the removal of debris and invasive species and the creation of habitat for marsh species. The design is also consistent with CIRCA’s “Enhancing Coastal Resiliency in Connecticut” site suitability model. Ultimately, the goal for Johnson’s Creek is to create a passive recreational trail along the water for public use and restoration.


Milford – Developing and Implementing a Restoration and Management Plan to Combat Threats and Challenges to Coastal Dune Resiliency in Urban Landscapes


New Haven – New Haven Industrial Toolbox


Northwest Hills Council of Governments (NHCOG)– Building Municipal Resilience and Climate Adaptation through Low Impact Development


Oxford - Planning for Flood Resilient and Fish-Friendly Road-Stream Crossings in the Southern Naugatuck Valley

The Town of Oxford, in partnership with the Town of Seymour, will assess its road-stream crossings to identify undersized structures (looking at current and future climate conditions). In both towns, road-stream crossings are highly vulnerable to floods as well as potential areas for conscious, conservation-oriented development. The towns will work with several partners to identify priority crossings, in order to target their future mitigation efforts. Oxford and Seymour will develop pre-replacement plans for structures most at-risk, and prioritized based on flood damage risk, crossing condition and maintenance need, and habitat restoration value. The towns plans to collaborate with CIRCA for the culvert vulnerability modeling portion of the project.

Through this project the towns will also develop a road-stream crossing inventory and a management plan. The resulting planning documents will be adopted as an annex to each town’s Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan facilitating implementation of the identified mitigation responses.

May 2017 Product: Oxford 2017_5_3_CIRCAposter


South Central Regional Council of Governments (SCRCOG)- Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Planning for Protection of Public Drinking Water

In this project SCRCOG will integrate climate change information into water planning processes for the region as well as develop an adaptation plan for this essential sector for the SCRCOG region and the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority.

With changing precipitation patterns, sea level rise, and drought anticipated due to climate change, water resource managers will benefit from integration of climate data into planning. The SCRCOG will work with regional planners, utility water managers, and climate science experts to identify climate risks and thresholds of importance to the regions water utilities, conduct a historical climate data analysis for the region, and prepare/analyze future climate projections and impacts. Using a scenario approach SCRCOG will assist water utility managers as they incorporate this data into planning activities.

SCRCOG will also create a guide for other regional entities and/or municipalities considering integration of climate change data into planning efforts.


South Central Regional Council of Governments (SCRCOG) - Design and Technical Guide for Implementing Innovative Municipal Scale Coastal Resilience in Southern Connecticut

Coastal adaptation and resilience planning at the municipal scale faces multiple challenges including concerns with the tax base, lack of decision support tools, and gaps in valuing urban ecosystem services. This CIRCA grant project seeks to overcome challenges that practitioners, planners, and policymaker’s encounter by using coastal adaptation strategies applied to projects in Old Field Creek in West Haven and Cosey Beach in East Haven.  These two projects build on past efforts of the Regional Framework for Coastal Resilience in Southern CT and the Yale Urban Ecology Design Lab (UEDLAB) project funded by The Nature Conservancy. 

Sites in West and East Haven are at different stages in planning and each is distinct in population density, hydrology, erosion and wave patterns, and types of habitat. Building on previous experiences and findings, a core group of landscape architects, regional planners, land use attorneys, economists, and engineers will work closely with the municipalities to create initial design proposals and leverage the planning process developed as part of the Regional Framework for Coastal Resilience.  Outcomes will include a Design and Technical Guide based on evaluation from an Economic Analysis/Decision Making Support Tool.  The Design and Technical Guide will be integrated into the municipal planning process. These outcomes will help transition municipalities driven by hard infrastructure, road transportation and developer-driven housing to spaces created with equity, human health, ecosystem function, and climate change as drivers of planning and design.

May 2017 Product: SCRCOG May 2017


Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (SCCOG) - Southeastern Connecticut Critical Facilities Assessment


Waterford – Waterford Municipal Infrastructure Resilience Project


Western Connecticut Council of Governments (WCOG) – Regional CRS Program



Awardees for the fourth round of funding (Awards announced October 2017):

Connecticut Metropolitan Council of Government (MetroCOG) - Beardsley Zoo Green Infrastructure Project

MetroCOG received an award for a “Beardsley Zoo Green Infrastructure Project”, which is a highly visible green infrastructure retrofit project at the zoo located along the Pequonnock River in Bridgeport. This collaborative project between MetroCOG, the Beardsley Zoo, the Connecticut Fund for the Environment and its bi-state program Save the Sound will build on regional resilience planning efforts and the successful completion of a green infrastructure demonstration project at the Zoo in spring 2016.  Through the installation of 2,000 square feet of porous pavement and up to 2,000 square feet of bioretention gardens, over 1,000,000 gallons of stormwater runoff will be captured and filtered annually from an acre of existing parking area.  Interpretive signage, targeted outreach, volunteer engagement opportunities, and workshops will help to educate the 275,000 people who visit the Zoo each year about stormwater runoff and flood resiliency.  Workshops conducted by a partnership of CFE/Save the Sound, the Beardsley Zoo, and the Northeast Organic Farmers Association of Connecticut (CT NOFA) will also reach target audiences of underserved, urban youth and adults to promote an understanding of stormwater infrastructure issues in Long Island Sound, increase environmental awareness, and enhance green job skills.  CIRCA’s funding for this project is supporting installation and outreach efforts including signage and workshops. 


New Haven - Assessing Impacts of Tides and Precipitation on Downtown Storm Sewer System Through Use of Real-Time Depth and Flow Monitoring

The City of New Haven was awarded its second CIRCA Municipal Resilience Grant for a project entitled, “Assessing Impacts of Tides and Precipitation on Downtown Storm Sewer System Through Use of Real-Time Depth and Flow Monitoring.”  The city experiences frequent flooding at several locations crucial to the functioning of the City and regional transportation systems during high intensity, short duration rainfall events. The flooding is exacerbated during high tide events such that a small storm (less than a one year occurrence) can lead to flooding of critical facilities. Significant gaps and inconsistencies still exist in the understanding of this large and complex drainage area. Until now, the City’s strategy lacked a long-term data gathering component to provide data on the performance of the City’s stormwater infrastructure in widely varying conditions. This CIRCA funded project will create a low-cost “smart city” stormwater sensor network to provide a detailed record of the interaction of rainfall, tides, green stormwater infrastructure, and sewer conveyance systems on the hydrology of New Haven’s urban core. A better understanding of system response during a range of hydrologic conditions will allow the City to value engineer cost-effective and resilient solutions. Techniques and approaches developed in New Haven also be transferred to other urban communities facing similar problems. 


Northwest Hills Council of Government (NHCOG) - Enhancing Rural Resiliency: A Vision and Toolkit for Adaptation in the Northwest Hills

NHCOG received an award for its project, “Enhancing Rural Resiliency: A Vision and Toolkit for Adaptation in the Northwest Hills.”  NHCOG and regional partners will use CIRCA’s support to craft a vision of A Resilient Northwest Hills and produce a web-hosted climate change adaptation toolkit for municipalities.  As a region of 21-towns, the Northwest Hills will experience a variety of climate changes including changes to precipitation rates, shifts in seasons, increased high heat and high-ozone days, and extreme weather events.  The NHCOG’s Municipal Resilience Grant project is consistent with their 2017 regional Plan of Conservation and Development, which specifically identifies climate change-related policies and specifically lists preparing, “a climate change adaptation plan including a web-based toolkit” as a strategy to help achieve the goal.  While this project achieves several regional objectives, it will also be highly transferable to other towns in Connecticut. 


Stamford - Resilience Opportunity Assessment

The City of Stamford was awarded a CIRCA grant for its “Resilience Opportunity Assessment” for a pilot project to review the potential vulnerability to climate change hazards at the Stamford Government Center and Stamford High School.  Government Center is where the majority of City operations are housed the school is one of several locations serving as a public emergency shelter during blackouts and storms.  The City is partnering with New Ecology, Inc., a Hartford-based non-profit that has developed a resilience assessment process for identifying hazards (including flooding, erosion, drought, extreme heat and cold, storms, fires, etc.) and implementation priorities (including but not limited to: elevating mechanical and electrical equipment, flood proofing buildings, flood barriers, perimeter drains, backflow preventers, portable water storage, etc.). The product of this CIRCA Municipal Resilience Grant will be a set of recommendations for mitigation approaches ranked in terms of cost, risk, and vulnerability for these two buildings.  This pilot assessment will not only provide an opportunity to advance resiliency in specific municipal buildings, but an opportunity to improve how the entire City functions and recovers from possible disaster.