Southern Connecticut Regional Framework for Coastal Resilience Final Report
In the aftermath of Tropical Storms Irene and Sandy, the population centers of Greater New Haven and Bridgeport (Fairfield east to Madison – Fairfield and New Haven County) collectively recognized a significant level of exposure and vulnerability to the infrastructure, environment, and socio-economic assets from extreme weather events and a changing climate. To counteract immediate and longer-term risks and broaden dialogue on community resilience building, the Southern Connecticut Regional Framework for Coastal Resilience project was launched. The overarching goal of this project was prioritizing actions and strengthening partnerships by providing proactive risk assessment, community engagement, conceptual design of on-theground projects, and the following Final Report. The principal purpose being to advance a Regional Resilience Framework, built on projects and partnerships, needed to help comprehensively improve resilience for over 591,000 residents from ten municipalities within Fairfield and New Haven County that represent over 30% of Connecticut’s coast. A core goal of this project was to strengthen the resilience of existing and future ecosystems including a diverse suite of services and co-benefits alongside existing and future development activities within a population center critical to the state of Connecticut’s future.
The main objective of the project was to comprehensively prioritize resilience opportunities for residents across ten municipalities in Fairfield and New Haven County using where appropriate and feasible green and natural infrastructure to help enhance existing natural resources, improve public amenities, and reduce risk from hazards over immediate and longer term planning horizons. This “triple-bottom line approach to resilience” using natural infrastructure is this Regional Resilience Framework’s hallmark and a critical consideration for other regions across the USA and globally. This collective endeavor represents the first time a Regional Resilience Framework process and approach has been conceived and advanced in the state of Connecticut. The Regional Resilience Framework provided a flexibly organizing structure and process that accelerated resilience across the urban and rural coastlines and watersheds with the project footprint. The conceptual designs developed as part of this project provide a wide range of common situations and hybrid solutions applicable well beyond the project area. This unique and critical Regional Resilience Framework has been achieved through a collaborative partnership between South Central Regional Council of Governments, the Nature Conservancy, and Connecticut Metropolitan Council of Governments alongside the ten municipalities, non-profit entities, state/federal agencies, academic institutions, youth organizations, businesses, and civic groups. It is the sincere hope of the project team, that the process and reports generated will help these communities and many others secure greater clarity on the common challenges they face while providing a positive vision for continued dialogue, resource sharing, and collaborative leadership needed to create a truly resilience region.