‘It has to go somewhere.’ Stamford getting $1.3 million for floods and extreme temps

From floods to tornadoes and wildfire smoke, it’s been a summer of weather extremes. Now, Stamford is getting more than $1 million to protect the city from rising temperatures and sea levels.
Stamford’s first target is Cummings Park. Even on a cloudy, windy Friday, a dog named Bailey and his owner were enjoying the waterfront.
“Bailey likes this weather much better than hot weather, but that's because he's a dog,” she said.
But beyond the beauty lies danger – the rising tide of flooding.
“You see water all over the place,” said Tyler Theder, the City of Stamford's storm water manager. “It has to go somewhere.”
Now, Stamford is getting almost $1.3 million from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to address climate change. Most of the money will study potential storm water changes around Cummings Park and Toilsome Brook. An extra $210,000 will look at cooling off downtown and the West Side, including planting more trees. “Tree canopies” are a priority of Gov. Ned Lamont as well.
“If OK’ed, they will be setting up heat sensors to map and study the current urban 'heat island' effect,” said Mayor Caroline Simmons (D-Stamford).
The grant comes from DEEP’s new Climate Resilience Fund, created as part of the 2020 Take Back Our Grid Act regulating electric providers.
More than a dozen communities are sharing the first round of $8.8 million. In all, the agency has $40 million to allocate. The next batch of funding should go out early next year, according to DEEP commissioner Katie Dykes.
Dykes said Connecticut is already suffering from climate change.
“Every week this summer, it feels like we've been facing really unusual circumstances,” she said. “This summer – this year – really feels different.”
Theder said lowering the flood risk involves dozens of small solutions, including raising streets and properties, as well as restoring wetlands.
“Helping to get more storm water into the ground, instead of having it being conveyed out to the nearest street,” he said.
At Cummings Park, the money will study ways to reduce runoff. That could mean re-building a stream that was filled-in back in 1936, or building additional storm water pipes.
“We can't continue to fight a fight that's only going to end up one way,” said Theder. “We have to live with nature and learn from it.”