Although New Hampshire has abundant water resources, these resources are threatened by demands from population growth, an aging water infrastructure, and climate change. It is very likely that the main effects of climate change will be the disruption of the water cycle. Probable disruptions include increases in water pollution related to higher temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns across the state, increases in the frequency of extreme water-related events, and increases in damage from coastal flooding related to global sea level rise. Governments, businesses, and communities must be aware of the main factors that contribute to climate vulnerability and the many proactive options available for climate change adaptation as related to water resources.


Water resource management strategies vary across the state and are dependent upon community resources and its water resource challenges. For example, densely populated regions are normally served by public water and sewer systems, while rural areas are typically served by private wells and septic systems, each having unique challenges. State, town, and community officials who manage water resources may not be prepared to deal with large scale impacts on water resources associated with climate change. It is thus very important for these officials to have the necessary resources to devise policies and implement changes to reduce the risks associated with climate change. Water resource management sectors that should be prepared for potential impacts from climate change include (but are not limited to) storm-water, drinking water, and wastewater infrastructure, risks from flooding, water availability, water quality, and water demand for irrigation.


The Challenge

The main objectives in this year’s Envirothon are learning about the water resources in your
community, determining what policies and procedures are in place for climate change adaptation,
and providing decision makers with strategies for adapting to a changing climate. As part of

your investigation you will need to contact state, county, and local governmental and non-
governmental personnel directly. The main product of your work will be climate change

adaptation measures that can be implemented to help preserve water resources in your
community. These measures should then be transferred to local decision makers, along with
implementation suggestions.

Guiding Questions

  1.  What are the sources for drinking water in your town or community?

  2. How many people rely on these sources?

  3. Does your community have an integrated water management plan?

  4. Is your town or community actively engaging in source water protection for drinking water (often land conservation with a specific focus of protecting drinking water)?

  5. Does your town or community have rules/zoning laws that are designed to protect water resources? Do they enforce them?

  6. Are there plans for land preservation and development goals?

  7. How might climate change impact the water resources in your community?

  8. Does your community have a climate change adaptation plan? If not then, why not?

  9. What types of resources can you provide to decision makers to help them devise climate change adaptation strategies?


Additional Resources


NH Envirothon 2021 Current Issue Team

John F. Slater, Ph.D.
Adjunct Instructor, Earth Science Department
University of New Hampshire



Lara Hooper, M.S.

Drinking Water & Groundwater Education Coordinator & NH Project WET Coordinator

New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services


Prior Competition Information

2019 Challenge Information | 2019 Judging Score Sheet

2018 Challenge Information

2017 Challenge Information | 2017 Judging Score Sheet

2016 Challenge Information

2015 Challenge Information

"Climate Change & NH Water Resources