November 10, 2016
The Resilience Roundup highlights  CIRCA's presence in the news; provides links to recent local, state, and national news articles related to resilience and adaptation; and announces resources, events, and funding opportunities. Learn more about CIRCA at



Flood Risk Assessment Maps Available on CIRCA's Website for Connecticut Coastal Municipalities

As part of the State of Connecticut's plan for the National Disaster Resilience Competition, CIRCA performed a vulnerability assessment for New Haven and Fairfield counties. The assessment included maps of a modeled category 3 hurricane storm surge using US Army Corps projections, critical infrastructure locations, FEMA Sandy damage points, and Sandy storm surge areas. High resolution  poster-size maps with this data can now be downloaded from CIRCA's website at  under the "Products" section.

The speaker will be Lynn Stoddard, director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University (ISE). Lynn will discuss Sustainable CT, an exciting new initiative being developed by municipal leaders, ISE, and multiple stakeholders. Sustainable CT is an emerging municipal sustainability certification program that will include technical assistance, education, detailed sustainability actions and tools, various funding and topic resources, and the opportunity for statewide recognition. The municipally-driven program is voluntary, incentive-based and beyond compliance. For over 15 years, the Institute has worked with stakeholders across Connecticut to implement practical solutions that increase energy efficiency, sustainability and resilience.
When: Friday, December 2, 2016. 12:00 pm


The Rockfall Foundation invites representatives of non-profit organizations, municipalities, and schools to apply for grants for projects that contribute to the general environmental education of the public, promote environmental planning, contribute to the preservation of the Connecticut River watershed, or fund an internship with a non-profit organization for an environmental project. For the 2016-2017 Grant Cycle, Rockfall will entertain grant applications for amounts ranging from $500 to $15,000. Proposals must have ties to the Lower Connecticut River Valley in order to be considered. This includes projects or programs or applicants based in the area towns. Proposals that focus on the Connecticut River corridor or Long Island Sound will also be considered as long as there is a demonstrated impact on the area towns. Special consideration will be given to projects that impact youth (preschool through college) or are multi-generational.
The FY2016-17 guidelines and application form, as well as additional information about The Rockfall Foundation, are available on the Rockfall website: The application deadline is 12:00 noon, Wednesday, November 16, 2016; grant awards will be announced and funds distributed early in 2017.
Anyone with questions should contact Tony Marino, Interim Executive Director, at or 860-347-0340.
Local & State News Clips


Four years ago this week,  Hurricane Sandy  struck the Atlantic Coast, causing more than 100 deaths in the United States, destroying thousands of homes and devastating coastal communities. There has been healing and recovery, but the memory of Sandy lives on - especially for the many people who are still struggling to rebuild homes and put their lives back together.
Today, Sandy serves as a reminder of the past and a lesson for the future. Science tells us that future will include more intense hurricanes and tropical storms predicted with a changing climate, causing more damage to coastal ecosystems and communities. In fact, a recent study published in  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences predicts disastrous floods like those seen during Hurricane Sandy may hit New York City 17 times more often in the next century.
Hurricane Matthew is a recent reminder of how these storms threaten lives and result in millions of dollars in property damage. They also expose the vulnerability of beaches, sand dunes, and coastal marshes that not only provide habitat for fish and wildlife but protect local communities from flooding.
In the aftermath of Sandy, federal, state and local groups have stepped forward in an unprecedented effort to strengthen natural defenses along the Atlantic Coast, protecting communities and wildlife from future storms. At the heart of this effort is one key concept: resilience.


Nearly 90 representatives from some of Connecticut's most recognizable companies - Pratt & Whitney, LEGO, ESPN and Uber - gathered recently with the state's top energy regulators and boosters at UBS' Stamford headquarters to plot a green revolution in Connecticut.
The Oct. 13 event, attended by companies from across Connecticut and even New York, served as the launch party for the Connecticut Sustainable Business Council, a newly formed advocacy group that aims to build a statewide coalition to present a unified voice on ramping up environmental efforts of businesses and government alike.
Some companies, like rideshare service Uber, have already committed financial support to the group, while others in attendance were interested to learn more about how the council might benefit them, and vice versa.
Launched by longtime corporate-sustainability advocate Heather Burns, the council is pursuing nonprofit certification and hopes to combine elements of a chamber of commerce and think tank to promote policies and initiatives for businesses and government that could slow climate change.
Similar groups exist in other states, including Massachusetts, California, Vermont and West Virginia.
"I know that to be successful in bringing sustainable business to the next level, which by the way is critical to the existence of humans on this planet, we must break down industry sectors and cross county lines in the state," said Burns, a Fairfield County resident.

Norwich - With drought conditions persisting, the efforts of the Connecticut Water Planning Council to create the first-ever comprehensive plan for management of the state's water resources seems more relevant than ever.
"Water is something you don't appreciate until you don't have it," said John Betkoski, chairman of the council, during a public forum Tuesday on the water plan.
The purpose of the plan, mandated by the state legislature and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy two years ago, is to create a framework for addressing problems and conflicts with the state's water resources, balancing the need for public drinking water, economic development, recreation and ecological health.
Now, after initial work on the plan by the council and its consultants, CDM Smith and Milone & MacBroom, the council is seeking public input on what the final plan should contain.
"Your input is essential," Betkoski told about a dozen people at Tuesday's meeting at the offices of the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments, one of three around the state this week. Betkoski, vice chairman of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, represents one of the four agencies that make up the council. Others are the state departments of Public Health and Energy and Environmental Protection, and the Office of Policy and Management.
Kirk Westphal, associate engineer for CDM Smith, said creation of the plan has been on a tight timeline. Work began in May, and a plan with recommendations will be presented to the state legislature by April.
Seventeen other states have also undertaken creation of a comprehensive blueprint for managing their water resources, he said.
"We have to address 17 main issues," he said. The plan also must take into account changing conditions with water supply due to the impacts of climate change, ecological needs, development and other factors, he said.

Homes and business across the southern shore of Rhode Island will likely be offered money to elevate their houses and buildings to protect against sea-level rise and flooding from coastal storms.  In all, 341 structures between Westerly and Narragansett were identified by the Army Corps of Engineers for its fortification program. The study concluded that buying out or moving the buildings was too expensive to warrant funding.  "It's not cheap to pick up a house and move it," said Christopher Hatfield, project manager for the Army Corps office in Concord, Mass.
Grover Fugate, executive director of the  Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), said the Army Corps estimates on sea-level rise are too conservative and therefore wants more buildings to qualify for the  adaptation program"We believe there could be more houses eligible for that project," Fugate said.
The Army Corps estimates that sea level will rise 4.44 inches in the next 50 years. Fugate defers to the more recent estimates by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of 2 feet by 2050 and up to 7 feet by 2100.  Hatfield said time constraints of about 18 months prevented the study from using more recent data on sea-level rise.
"We went with what we had and did the best modeling we could and that's what your seeing in the report," Hatfield said.  Fugate said the project is nonetheless warranted because, "It will obviously improve the survivability of those structures ... it will reduce their flood insurance."
Flood insurance rates, he said, are expected to rise significantly, as the federal program reduces its subsidies. Fugate said he has been working with Gov. Gina Raimondo to help lower local flood insurance costs in the state.
The public is being asked to provide feedback on the program through Nov. 21. Property owners along the 28-mile stretch of shoreline must reach out to the  Army Corps to find out if they own one of the targeted buildings. If so, and if the program is approved, the Army Corps will offer to pay 65 percent of the cost to elevate the home or building. The property owner must pay the remaining 35 percent. Participation is voluntary. Fugate said the state may offer no-interest or low-interest loans to help property owners pay their share.
Most of the targeted Rhode Island structures are homes. Depending on the location, the building will be elevated between 12 and 18 feet. An additional 46 at-risk buildings, mostly commercial structures, aren't suited for elevation but will be eligible for other flood-protection measures, according to the Army Corps. Tide walls and flood gates were considered for parts of Westerly and Narragansett, but were deemed too costly.
The CRMC was one of 15 Rhode Island agencies and environmental groups to coordinate with the Army Corps on the study. The study's $800,000 cost was funded through the federal Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 for Hurricane Sandy impacts. A more detailed study from the Army Corps will examine other issues such as what happens to the septic systems of the homes being elevated, according to CRMC.
The Army Corps examined 4,000 properties, valued at $600 million, along the shoreline in Washington County. The cost to elevate the 341 structures is estimated at $58 million.
The large-scale coastal threat adaptation program is one of the first of its kind in the country. Similar studies are underway in Virginia and Maryland. Some 2,500 homes affected by Hurricane Katrina are undergoing similar construction projects.
Buildings on Narragansett Bay may also be considered for a future project, but Hatfield said the result might be different because the southern region has a higher risk of erosion from storms and sea-level rise.  "It doesn't mean we'll end up with the same recommendations," he said. "These communities are very different than those along the south coast."  Unless there is public demand, there are no plans for hearings on the proposal. Any feedback or questions should go to Christopher Hatfield, of the Army Corps New England District, via e-mail at or by calling 978-318-8520.
If approved, the first projects will begin in 2019.


The Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments will host two meetings to hear public input about updating its regional hazard-mitigation plan.
The meetings will take place at 7 p.m. Nov. 28 at the Groton Public Library, 52 Newtown Road, and at 7 p.m. Dec. 1 in the SCCOG office at 5 Connecticut Ave., Norwich.
Milone & MacBroom, the consulting firm hired by SCCOG, is working to create a plan to deal with natural disasters that is both relevant and useful, the company said in a news release Friday. The plan will address the consequences of floods, earthquakes, dam failures and other extreme events, identifying activities communities can take to minimize property damage, risk of life and costs. The update will identify significant changes in risks, vulnerabilities, capabilities and mitigation actions that have developed since the previous plan was written in 2012.
The meetings will provide information about the plan to the public, and give local residents a chance to offer input. People also are encouraged to comment through an online survey at
Comments and questions can be sent to
For more information, call (860) 889-2324.
The solar panels - 15,000 of them - sweep down the hill from a former dairy farm here, gleaming rows of silver and blue nestled between fields of recently harvested corn. The installation, a project developed in partnership with SolarCity, the leading rooftop solar provider in the United States, and the local electric cooperative, is meant to help create more green energy options for customers, mainly a handful of utilities operating in the state.
But it is what lies toward the bottom of the array that gives the project its distinction: about 30 white refrigerator-size battery banks courtesy of Tesla, the electric car maker
The facility, the Mountain Ash Solar Farm, is not running yet, but, along with a similar, larger project under development in Hawaii, it offers a steel-and-glass example of what Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, and his cousins, Lyndon and Peter Rive, founders of SolarCity, have in mind for their merger planned for this year.
Solar energy has long been seen as an important weapon in the fight against climate change, but its usefulness is limited because the sun sets - and is temporarily blocked by passing clouds - which can create a mismatch between supply and demand or lead to complications on the grid. Adding batteries to the mix not only solves those problems, but allows solar power plant operators to sell new services to system operators.
"It's the blueprint for how we want to operate in the future," said John Conley, vice president of project development at SolarCity.

NationalNational News Clips


Toms River, N.J.-For most of the last century, modest one-story summer bungalows lined this private strip of road that dead-ends at Vision Beach. Then Sandy made landfall here on Oct. 29, 2012, obliterating them.
Today, except for the occasional vacant lot, the street has been transformed into two rows of gleaming brand-new three-story homes.
The main floors are about 14 feet off the ground, perched on pillars. Below, instead of an enclosed ground floor, many have parking spaces or picnic tables. Jay Lynch, the town's planner, calls the new developments "canyons" because of the heights.
Similarly towering construction is occurring on almost every nearby road.
At first, Sandy seemed to be the calamity that was finally big enough to rouse the country to the arrival of climate change's many risks. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, for example, spoke of "a wake-up call and lesson to be learned here."
In Toms River, Mayor Thomas Kelaher, a Republican, said he now accepts the evidence. "Sea level is rising," he said, "I am absolutely convinced." 


NAVAL STATION NORFOLK, VIRGINIA- A submarine resembling a slug sits heavily in these waters alongside a concrete pier whose underbelly has gotten 18 inches closer to the ocean over almost 100 years of docking warships.
This pier and 13 others on the waterfront of the world's biggest naval base are slowly being replaced as rising sea levels contribute to the submersion of equipment that provides power and heat to some of the nation's most sophisticated vessels. Destroyers, cruisers, an aircraft carrier and the sub were seen roped to piers here last month.
Base officials have begun temporarily shutting off electricity on some of these piers in anticipation of high water events caused by climbing sea levels and a combination of strong winds, rain and unusually high tides, according to a former base commander. The Navy acknowledges that the flooding events are already happening. It's an admission that climate change is currently affecting aspects of training, ship maintenance and mission preparation.
"That's one of the impacts we see already," said Navy Capt. Dean VanderLey, an engineer who oversees the infrastructure needs of the Navy's bases in the Mid-Atlantic region, referring to disruptions in the delivery of steam to heat docked ships.
The ocean's upward rise is placing the military inside the politicized debate over climate change. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton mentioned the base by name in a speech about the risks of global warming this month. Republican nominee Donald Trump, who has sought to be a champion of the military, expresses doubt about rising temperatures.


Warmer oceans are acting like a catalyst for one of the world's most abundant species of plankton, triggering earlier blooms of blue-green algae in the waters of the North Atlantic. Because of plankton's fundamental role in the marine ecosystem, researchers expect this shift to have far-reaching impacts throughout the world's oceans.
The study,  published in the journal Science , focused on Synechococcus, a type of blue-green algae that is one of the most abundant phytoplankton in the ocean. The authors drew on 13 years worth of data to measure the spring blooms that  cover the North Atlantic in a carpet of green each year.
For every degree increase in water temperature, they found, the plankton bloomed four to five days earlier. From 2003 to 2012, the warmest years in their study, the bloom shifted by 20 days. The change will likely continue as the region warms in coming years.
"To the extent that they're shifting, we do expect there to be impacts throughout the ecosystem," said  Heidi M. Sosik , senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Phytoplankton are mostly microscopic organisms that use photosynthesis to convert sunlight into energy, so they are critical to nearly all marine life. Because they perform about half of the world's photosynthesis, they also play a tremendous role in pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.


SWAN QUARTER, NORTH CAROLINA, This 19th century fishing village stands three feet above sea level at the bottom of the coastal plain known as the Inner Banks. It is home to 301 people, a small fishing fleet that has seen better days, and is surrounded by 18 miles of dikes, including a 7-foot steel barrier installed a couple of hurricanes ago, courtesy of FEMA's millions.
When Stan Riggs, a coastal geologist, visited here two weeks after Hurricane Matthew blew through, Swan Quarter was dry behind its barricade. But the surrounding landscape remained sodden, and the signs of saltwater intrusion from storm surges and rising tides that Riggs likens to "a creeping disease" are visible all across the plain. Whole "ghost forests" poisoned by saltwater stand sentinel to rising tides.
"We cannot engineer our way out of this," he says. "We can build bigger and bigger dikes, but the net changes are driven by ocean dynamics, and it's on a one-way track right now."


Whether you believe it or not, climate change is here. Communities around the United States, from Miami to Shishmaref, Alaska, are beginning to feel and prepare for its fury.
And while cutting carbon emissions is the obvious solution, preparing for rising seas, extreme weather and other impacts will prove critical as the planet inevitably changes.
The White House-chaired Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience released on Monday a report that paves the way for building a more climate-resilient nation. In addition, the Obama administration announced the launch of a collaborative effort to support communities in their resiliency planning, as well as a partnership among universities that have pledged to train the next generation of design and building professionals.
These moves in the waning days of President Barack Obama's administration are a bid to cement the president's already considerable climate legacy.
John Holdren, the president's chief science advisor, says that in the face of climate change, humans have three options: reducing emissions, building resilience or suffering.
"Society is already doing some of all three," he told The Huffington Post. "What's really up for grabs is the future mix, and if we want, as all humans should, to minimize human suffering," mitigation and adaptation will be key, he said. 


Climate change has largely been ignored in conversations surrounding the presidential election. Local elections have been another matter, however, with many cities and states talking about how to deal with it.
Last June, San Francisco area voters took a major step in adapting to sea level rise by approving a Measure AA, a $1-a-month parcel tax that will raise $500 million over 20 years, with the purpose of funding wetlands restoration.
Because of state requirements, the measure needed to secure 66 percent of votes in order to pass. Such a majority can be difficult because many object to parcel taxes, since single family homeowners pay the same amount as, say, Google. It got 70 percent.
David Lewis, executive director of Save the Bay, which spearheaded the funding effort, said part of the reason the measure got so much of the vote was there's so much love for the bay.
"When you say San Francisco Bay you're saying the Bay Area, and Measure AA - which is a very small tax shared by a lot of people to raise a lot of money together for a big benefit - that felt like doing something for the place we live," Lewis said.


The Resilience Roundup highlights CIRCA's  presence in the news, provides links to recent local/state/national news articles related to resilience and adaptation, and announces upcoming events and seminars.
The Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation's  (CIRCA) mission is to increase the resilience and sustainability of vulnerable communities along Connecticut's coast and inland waterways to the growing impacts of climate change and extreme weather on the natural, built, and human environment. The institute is located at the University of Connecticut's Avery Point campus and includes faculty from across the university. CIRCA is a partnership between UConn and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP). 

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