Deciding how to protect critical infrastructure from stronger and more frequent storms is a difficult task. In the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, Woodard & Curran assisted the Greater New Haven Water Pollution Control Authority (GNHWPCA) in leveraging Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding to accomplish planned capital upgrades at its pump stations and improve their resiliency simultaneously.
GNHWPCA serves a total population of nearly 200,000 people represented by 44,200 customer accounts. It oversees the operation and maintenance of 555 miles of pipeline, 30 pumping stations, and a 40 million-gallon-per-day advanced secondary treatment plant. Wastewater treated at the East Shore water pollution abatement facility is discharged into Long Island Sound and must meet both federal and state effluent quality standards.
Disaster Turned Opportunity
Prior to Hurricane Sandy, GNHWPCA had established a proactive Capital Improvement Plan that included pump station upgrades. However, when the storm hit, then-President Barack Obama declared a major disaster, opening up FEMA funding to bolster infrastructure and improve resiliency. GNHWPCA saw this as an opportunity to address future infrastructure needs and partnered with firm Woodard & Curran to pursue a FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant. These grants provide support to address vulnerabilities exposed during a disaster—in the case of New Haven, this meant preventing flood waters from infiltrating and damaging four pump stations.
Cosey Beach Pump Station before upgrades
The grant program required that applicants clearly address resiliency, not simply replace equipment. Program eligibility included private homes and commercial properties in addition to public utilities, making it more competitive. Our team applied new design tactics to reshape the upgrade projects to meet FEMA’s requirements and position for them to capture funding.
- An approved Hazard Mitigation Plan with utilities in question identified as Critical Infrastructure
- 25% of funding covered by utility
- Benefit/Cost Analysis
- Demonstrate that improvements will be lasting and preventative
GNHWPCA submitted two applications for approximately $3 million in combined funding. To maximize its chances of securing these grants, the applications included several resiliency and infrastructure hardening strategies, such as elevating the stations above the 100-year floodplain, relocating electrical equipment, and improving backup power systems. The submission also emphasized the long-term cost savings secured by installing new equipment as opposed to moving existing machinery. The resulting proposals accomplish GNHWPCA ‘s capital upgrade goals while improving resiliency and meeting FEMA’s objectives.
Form and Function
Cosey Beach Pump Station after upgrades
Initially, GNHWPCA was awarded more than $2 million in grants and began upgrading several stations. Based on the early success of the work, FEMA offered addition funding, bringing the total to approximately $4 million — 70% of the total cost — and planned to use the project as a best-practice case study. Several pump stations have now been fully reconstructed on elevated platforms that put them out of flood danger.
The scope of these pump station upgrades included the elevated pump stations themselves, as well as site improvements. Pumps, piping and flow meters; as well as electrical, generators, HVAC, SCADA, and fuel tanks. Our team assisted GNHWPCA with funding, permitting, and preliminary design, while CH Nickerson provided final design-build delivery of the project. Completed pump stations function well, are pleasing to the eye, and accomplish GNHWPCA’s resiliency goals.