Drinking Water Vulnerability Assessment and Resilience Plan

About the Project

Project Summary

The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA) will work together for the purpose of preparing a Drinking Water Vulnerability Assessment and Resilience Plan to assess, identify, and address vulnerabilities for community water systems in Fairfield, New Haven, New London, and Middlesex counties. The Plan will utilize spatial data, flood risk, climate information, surveys and interviews with water utilities to ensure preparedness and resiliency of community water systems before, during, and after future storms and hazards, including the impacts of climate change and drought.

Project Description

The project consists of four overall tasks:

  • Vulnerability assessment of Connecticut community water systems in the four counties impacted by Super Storm Sandy to identify options and alternatives to mitigate the vulnerabilities identified and to improve resiliency and to compile the assessment into a comprehensive Public Water Systems resiliency plan.
    • Surveys and interviews will be conducted to assess impacts from recent severe storms, and to also assess vulnerabilities to community water systems quality and quantity. Both water quality and quantity data, and climate change projections, will be used to compliment the surveys.
    • Current vulnerability assessments and emergency contingency plans will be reviewed and analyzed to identify vulnerabilities and mitigation strategies.
    • Conduct spatial analysis to assess potential impacts to drinking water sources, control operation stations and other critical infrastructure.
    • Emergency contingency plans for community water systems and critical facilities will be reviewed and assessed.
    • Interconnections, inside and outside of the four counties, will be examined to identify new interconnections, pump stations, storage tanks and system upgrades
  • Review current practices, procedures, and requirements for emergency response at DPH and develop an emergency response plan, in collaboration with the Department.
    • Interviews will be conducted with relevant staff, both in state and out of state, to assess current requirements for emergency response.
    • The final response plan template will include recommendations and procedures, along with links to helpful resources.
  • Use available GIS data layers and information from local health directors to assess the vulnerability of private wells and recommend actions to improve resiliency.
    • An assumed private well map will be created by utilizing existing public water service area data.
    • Assumed private well locations will be assessed for vulnerability based on current and future flood maps. Local Directors of Health will also be given an opportunity to comment on private well location and vulnerability.
  • Prepare a high-level comprehensive implementation plan that addresses identified community water systems’ vulnerabilities and provides options and alternatives to improve resiliency, which could potentially include recommendations for:
    • Resilient water supply sources and resiliency solutions.
    • Critical facilities in major cities, such as commerce centers, hospitals, nursing homes and emergency shelters.
    • Long term implementation planning for providing redundant and resilient infrastructure
    • Law modifications to assure that critical infrastructure vulnerabilities are addressed.
    • Resources for community water systems to ensure preparedness during extreme weather events and to prepare for the effects of climate change.

CIRCA plans to conduct a workshop where municipal officials, councils of governments, community water systems and local health directors will be involved and engaged in the development and implementation of the plan.

Anticipated completion date: March 2018

Researchers, Staff and Contractors Supported on Project

  • James O’Donnell, UConn CIRCA and Department of Marine Sciences
  • Christine Kirchoff, UConn Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Rebecca French, UConn CIRCA
  • Victoria Brudz, UConn CIRCA
  • Guiling Wang, UConn Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Amy Burnicki, UConn Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • David Murphy, Milone & MacBroom


Reservoir in Barkhamstead

Barkhamsted Reservoir, Photo: CT Mirror

Private Well Cap, Photo: Ridgefield Health Department

Private well cap, Photo: Ridgefield Health Department

“What We Do” Areas

This project is a part of the following topical areas:

Critical Infrastructure Resilience