Coastal Adaptation Plan for the Town of Groton, Connecticut

Rachel M. Gregg
Posted on: 3/29/2010 - Updated on: 10/28/2021

Posted by

Rachel Gregg

Project Summary

The Long Island Sound Study (LISS) received a Partner Start-up Grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Ready Estuaries Program to develop a climate change preparedness plan for the Town of Groton, Connecticut. With support from ICLEI and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), LISS hosted a series of workshops to educate government officials on climate change, identify local vulnerabilities, and develop adaptation strategies. A final report was released in 2011; since then, the Town of Groton has continued to engage in climate change planning, including incorporating adaptation recommendations into their 2020 Open Space Conservation Plan as well as their 2014 Municipal Coastal Program Update.


LISS, in cooperation with ICLEI, the Connecticut DEEP, and the Town of Groton, and with support from the EPA’s Climate Ready Estuaries Program, developed a climate change preparedness plan for Groton, Connecticut. A three-part series of workshops was held to engage representatives from federal, state, and municipal governments in adaptation planning for the town. The aim of the project was to bring these stakeholders together to evaluate and advance understanding of Groton’s vulnerability to climate change and to collaboratively develop adaptation strategies to increase the Town’s resilience. Groton was selected as the focus for the project because the town had already taken steps toward advancing climate mitigation and adaptation; it offered a unique mix of federal, state, and municipal coastal climate change issues; and lessons learned would provide valuable guidance to and be replicable by other municipalities in the region.


LISS proposed to and was funded by the Climate Ready Estuaries Program in 2009 to examine the division of responsibilities and roles between the federal, state, local, and private sectors in a climate preparedness plan from the perspective of Groton. The grant supported three workshops to train and educate government officials at all levels on their roles in climate change adaptation. The workshops focused on:

  1. The climate adaptation planning process and projected climate changes (local, regional, global);
  2. Identification of vulnerabilities from projected changes; and
  3. Identification of potential actions that could increase resilience in the face of projected changes.

Over 100 individuals from federal and state agencies, academia, private corporations, and residential groups, among others, attended the workshops.  

Outcomes and Conclusions

A final report, Preparing for Climate Change in Groton, Connecticut: A Model Process for Communities in the Northeast, was released in 2011. The report summarizes the results of the workshops, including potential actions to help build preparedness and ways to leverage existing climate adaptation initiatives. Following the workshops, the Town began incorporating many of the actions that had been identified into its Municipal Coastal Program and Plan of Conservation and Development (e.g., revising zoning regulations). The Town of Groton has also incorporated climate change into its Open Space Conservation Plan. For example, the plan proposes extending a greenbelt along the Mystic River to mitigate flooding impacts associated with sea-level rise and also recommends avoiding the purchase of lands included in the 100-year plus 20” sea-level increase zone for the purpose of open space acquisition.

The Town of Groton was the first in Connecticut to begin integrating climate change into municipal planning and paved the way for other communities in the state to also begin incorporating adaptation into their municipal planning efforts.

Additionally, this process, along with similar workshops in other communities, prompted the creation of Special Act 13-9 that committed the University of Connecticut and the CT DEEP to develop a partnership and establish a climate change adaptation and resilience commission. In 2014, this commission officially launched as the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Adaptation (CIRCA), which aims to increase the resilience and sustainability of vulnerable coastal and inland floodplain communities to the impacts of climate change on the natural, built, and human environment.

Funding continues to be a challenge for the implementation of climate adaptation projects at the municipal level. Thus, the Town of Groton recently applied for and was awarded funding to complete the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Planning Grant program and to update the Town’s Hazard Mitigation Plan. By completing these projects, Groton will be eligible for national FEMA Grant programs and MVP Action Grants for the implementation of climate adaptation projects.

Connecticut Institute for Resilience & Climate Adaptation (CIRCA)
Groton Open Space Conservation Plan


Gregg, R. M. (2020). Coastal Adaptation Plan for the Town of Groton, Connecticut [Case study on a project of the Long Island Sound Study and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. (Last updated June 2020)

Project Contact

Mark Parker
[email protected]


Project Contacts

Affiliated Organizations

The Long Island Sound Study (LISS) works with federal, state, and local partners to restore and protect Long Island Sound. In 1994, the program’s goals were identified in LISS’s Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (the CCMP).

The DEEP achieves its mission through regulation, monitoring, inspection and enforcement, and licensing procedures that help control air, land and water pollution in order to protect health, safety, welfare and natural resources.

The Climate Ready Estuaries program works with the National Estuary Programs and other coastal managers to: 1) assess climate change vulnerabilities, 2) develop and implement adaptation strategies, 3) engage and educate stakeholders, and 4) share the lessons learned with other coastal managers.

ICLEI–Local Governments for Sustainability is the leading nonprofit membership association devoted to local governments engaged in sustainability, climate protection, and clean energy initiatives.  In the United States, ICLEI USA is the recognized leader in its field, creating cutting-edge tools and establishing national standards.

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