Public Involvement Needs Assessment
Center for Collaborative Policy,
California State University, Sacramento
Prepared for the State Water Resources Control Board
Abstract. A Needs Assessment of outreach and public participation practice at the California Water Boards, which consist of the State Water Board and its nine regional Boards, was performed by the Center for Collaborative Policy (CCP). The purpose of the Needs Assessment was to gather data to inform the development of a manual and companion Water Leadership Academy training course, which will provide tools to Water Boards staff to build their capacity to more effectively design and conduct public participation and outreach efforts. This Needs Assessment Report (Report) will also inform the Water Boards’ report to the California State legislature pursuant to Senate Bill 1949.
The Needs Assessment finds that the Water Boards currently have a solid foundation upon which to improve their public involvement practice. This foundation includes executive support as well as growing staff experience with public involvement above and beyond minimum legal requirements. The training course and manual that will be created through the Water Leadership Academy have great potential to assist staff throughout the regions to continue to increase their comfort and skill with public involvement.
This Report also identifies a number of key Water Boards leadership opportunities related to public involvement. Recommendations are provided as targeted actions to address opportunities that seem likely to yield the largest benefits in terms of public satisfaction, staff efficiency, and water quality. Chief among these opportunities to maximize limited resources are:
- Leadership prioritization and support ― including staff time and funding ― for public involvement efforts that seem likely to avert future problems;
- Providing additional mechanisms for staff to share creative public involvement and resource maximization strategies with one another;
- Improving and expanding websites; and
- Standardizing appropriate materials and procedures across regions.