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Educating the Public about Watershed Management
Author: Terry Cole
Date: 10/01
Presented at WEF 74th Annual Conference and Exposition, Atlanta, GA October 13-17, 2001

Watershed protection and stormwater management offer unique opportunities for public involvement. Well-managed efforts can energize and involve local residents in protection of their watercourses, ensuring optimal implementation of the watershed plan by providing the local community with ownership in protection of area waterways. The benefit to governments and water/sewer agencies of this type of focused public involvement cannot be overstated as it encourages residents to acknowledge responsibility for the impact each individual has on area waterways while fostering voluntary participation in Watershed Management Plan recommendations. Additionally, governments and agencies earn credibility through the process, a value that spills over into all other programs the government or agency undertakes. This paper discusses the objectives of a well-managed public involvement plan for watershed management programs, including using a framework designed to stimulate the planning process, rather than to hinder or encumber it. Supporting this approach will be two case studies of successful watershed management public involvement programs.