The project team reached out to interested stakeholders: ratepayers, neighborhood associations, industry, wholesale customers, non-profit organizations and others to determine what these water users care about most when making decisions for the filtration plant. The team focused on collecting public feedback and providing it to the engineering teams to help guide decisions for the project: location, filtration technology, and capacity.
The fourth decision—procurement method—was made internally by City procurement, engineering and budget staff.
The project team conducted a three-step outreach process to identify those community values that were then incorporated into the decision-making process:
Review Past Public Opinion Research; the team reviewed past public opinion research conducted by Portland Water Bureau (PWB) over the past 20 years. The discussion guide for the next step, stakeholder interviews, was based on the review of this past public opinion research.
Stakeholder Interviews: we conducted interviews with 20 stakeholder groups familiar with PWB to understand community values around Bull Run Filtration.
On-line Survey: a public on-line survey was developed based on input attained from the stakeholder interviews. The survey was posted on PWB’s website as well as promoted through social media. As of June 21, approximately 1700 individuals had completed the survey.
What we heard on community values:
The most important, shared community values are cost benefit and public health/water quality.
Other values include resiliency/reliability, consistency, environmental impacts, minimizing treatment/chemicals, and meeting future needs.
Top values in selecting the filtration plant site are keeping the project easy to implement and engaging the site neighbors.
Stakeholders are interested in considering treatment technologies that go beyond Cryptosporidium removal, as long as the benefits are commensurate with costs.
Plant capacity should plan for the future, but don’t overbuild it—phase it, if possible.
Other key takeaways:
Portland customers love their water!!
Many people in the community don’t know a lot about the project and have questions about treatment methods, project timing and costs.
Stakeholders who are knowledgeable about the project value communication and transparency—some see an opportunity to increase engagement with broad audiences such as small businesses, industry, and communities of color.