New Hampshire Drinking Water Climate Change Resilience Plan

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services’ Drinking Water and Groundwater Bureau (DWGB) developed this action plan to guide the Bureau’s activities in building resilience  to climate change impacts in community water systems across the state. The plan identifies examples of adaptation measures for community water systems as well as priority action items DWGB will take with regard to policies, operations, regulations, education/outreach, and technical assistance to help drinking water systems prepare for and respond to climate impacts.

The plan offers a brief discussion of the challenges faced by New Hampshire’s drinking water systems related to water quality, water availability, and damage to infrastructure linked to climate change. In response to these concerns, examples of adaptation strategies that community water systems could employ are listed in section 3.3 - organized by the type of climate impact the strategies would address. Some of the planning, operational, and infrastructure improvement strategies include to:

  • Conduct training for personnel in climate change impacts and resilience, as well as in energy efficiency, to help staff understand the long-term impacts and resilience strategies
  • Investigate alternative management procedures (such as reservoir operations, reuse of greay water and water conservation) to ensure adequate supply, especially for the summer months.  
  • Raise wellheads to ensure flood water does not contaminate sources.  
  • Incorporate monitoring of groundwater conditions and climate change projections into groundwater models. 
  • Encourage Low Impact Development and other stormwater infiltration practices in places where they are appropriate (green roofs, reduction in impervious land cover, use of pervious pavement, etc.)

The report reviews the history of DWGB activities related to climate change resilience leading up to this plan. The agency has conducted emergency planning and vulnerability assessments, a flood survey, and a CWS extreme weather event survey; performed a preliminary evaluation of adaptation strategies; and participated in regional and national climate change work groups, among others. Based on the results of these activities, action items were selected for implementation by DWGB to help drinking water systems prepare for and respond to climate impacts. Short-, medium-, and long-term action items are presented in section 3.4 including the following examples: 

  • Continue to focus on ensuring adequate supply and system redundancy, as well as on identifying potential system vulnerabilities.
  • Develop and implement a climate change vulnerability assessment program for water systems. 
  • Recruit water systems with surface water sources to participate in a voluntary monitoring and reporting network for algae blooms, to allow DWGB to assess trends in algal outbreaks.
  • For large and small systems, recommend that isolation valves be spaced at not more than 500 feet in flood plains or in areas with high erosion potential.  
  • Amend Env-Ws 360.15 to require that emergency plans include consideration of climate change impacts and how systems will respond to increased frequency of flooding, drought and other climate impacts. 


The plan also provides descriptions and links to additional resources related to adaptation/planning tools, documents, and guidance. The final appendices provide reports from the 2010 flood survey and the 2013 extreme weather events survey, both of which contributed to the development of this resilience plan.

 

 

Publication Date: October 2014

Related Organizations:

  • New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

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  • Plans (other)

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