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.