Fredericktown, Missouri Prepares for Climate Change Drought Risk

Fredericktown, Missouri Prepares for Climate Change Drought Risk

Project Summary

Fredericktown, Missouri’s drinking water utility services the town of just over 4,000 residents with an average demand of 500,000 gallons per day. Fredericktown had concerns about the resilience of its water system, specifically regarding the amount of sediment deposition and contaminate influx from heavy rain events that affected source water storage capacity. To complicate its concerns, the region suffered a drought in 2012 which left much of the system’s lake-bed exposed, reduced storage capacity and the utility would have been critically low on available source water if not for a release from an upstream lake.

Recognizing the severity of other droughts at the time in Texas and California, and understanding that drought risk may increase in the future, utility officials realized they needed to prepare for the future. Using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Climate Ready Evaluation and Assessment Tool (CREAT), the utility was able to project potential climate impacts to their system out to beyond the year 2035. Initial results of this tool showed that the utility not only had to be concerned about future drought, but may also need to prepare for flooding caused by more extreme precipitation events. Using the CREAT participatory process, the utility was able to identify several potential adaptation strategies.

Among those considered were implementation of a water conservation strategy, entering into a water-rights agreement, lake dredging and development of a water reclamation system. Fredericktown pursued the short-term strategy of developing a contract to use water from a nearby lake during dry periods. The utility operators, recognizing that upstream water releases and a short-term contract may not be sufficient under future conditions, also identified a potential long-term adaptation action to dredge the lake. The CREAT Tool enabled the city of Fredericktown to assess climate vulnerability, pursue a short-term resiliency action and identify a long-term climate adaptation strategy.

Description of the video:

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Fredericktown is an old, rural community.

Local economy for many years was based on

agriculture and mining activities.

Our utility is a surface water plant, and we're about

a 500,000-gallon-per-day usage from the system.

We're primarily concerned with the accumulation of sediment

in our source water, which is the Federicktown City Lake.

The lake was built 60 years ago in 1954.

During the drought of 2012 we saw a great portion of

the lake bottom exposed, and our

lake storage capacity was greatly reduced.

If not for the efforts to have the

S bar F Scout Ranch release water from Nims Lake,

the situation could have been much more critical.

The big motivation I saw is the experience that we had in

2012 with the drought, ourself.

And then also, seeing the impacts of California and Texas

and their drought and flood related matters.

I thought that CREAT would be a great tool to identify

our assets, our customers, the possibility of flooding

and drought in the future and how we might better-plan

to get through that.

As we looked at the longer range, when we get out to 2035,

we've seen the potential of

flooding and drought to be more prevalent.

Climate change is something that I think everyone

should be concerned with.

The evidence is there and

we need to be proactively involved, and understand

what the effects of climate change could be for us,

both locally and on a broader scale.

The cleanup of our source water or the city lake, is going to

involve possibly two alternatives that we're

considering right now, either mass excavation

or a controlled dredging operation.

We are members of the community.

We want to see the city prosper and go on.

Our grandchildren and children will be raised here,

and we'd like for them to have a water supply,

like we've always had it.

In the beginning, this appeared to be a dream,

and it looks like there's a potential it could become

a reality in the near future.


How did they do it?
ActionApplicable Resources

Identified climate risk

  • Fredericktown, MO recognized their current source water vulnerabilities from levels of erosion, sedimentation and contaminate influx from heavy but sporadic rain events, as well as the increased risk of drought. Together these current threats not only increased the turbidity of the water but reduced the volume of lake storage and could have played a role contributing to greater treatment costs. These current vulnerabilities may be exacerbated by climate change so Fredericktown decided to better understand its climate vulnerability.

Assessed its climate vulnerability

  • Fredericktown, MO used EPA’s Climate Ready Evaluation and Assessment Tool (CREAT) to project potential climate impacts to their system out to 2030 and beyond. They identified vulnerability to increased precipitation events (storms) and changing precipitation patterns including a vulnerability to drought -- and the corresponding vulnerabilities to water quality and sedimentation.

Identified near term resiliency and long term adaptation strategies

  • Adopted short term resiliency by contracting with an upstream organization to release water during shortages.
  • Planned for long term adaptation by exploring the idea of increasing water storage capacity by dredging the lake.
  • The EPA’s Adaptation Strategies Guide is intended to help communities consider possible ways to address anticipated current and future threats resulting from climate change.

Similar Case Studies

  • To see how another Midwestern community acted to reduce future vulnerability, see the Iowa City case study on choosing to close a wastewater facility.
  • To see how another utility rebuilt in a vulnerable location but took steps to prepare their facility and adapt to concerns over flooding and sedimentation, see the Anacortes, Washington case study.
  • For an example on how a wastewater utility identified projected climate impacts and adaptation strategies, and then partnered with relevant entities to adopt these strategies and reduce stormwater impacts and combined sewer overflows, view the Camden, New Jersey case study.