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That Vision Thing: Making the link between the watershed planning decision-making process and public values and expectations

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The strength of any planning project is linked directly to the community's vision and understanding of the problems, issues and opportunities being addressed. In watershed planning in an urban environment, there are many--often competing--objectives that can sometimes muddy the waters of the decision making process. In order to be successful, watershed planning must have technical, policy, political and public support from staff and the community. The foundation of a successful plan is a workable vision supported by the structure of technically strong evaluation criteria and decision-making methodology. Capturing that vision and building the decision making process around it will help ensure a plan that is strong enough to implement, but flexible enough to withstand the test of time and the often stormy waters of changing regulations.

The Unified Sewerage Agency (USA) of Washington County, Oregon has been utilizing a watershed planning process for the past 10 years that draws on a 12-15 member community Advisory, or Project Committee. The Committee works closely with the technical consultant to identify issues, develop criteria and methodology for evaluating and selecting projects, and provide guidance and support for public outreach and involvement.

This paper will present some of the underlying principles, tips, tools, techniques and challenges learned from more than 10 years of experience working on watershed planning in a rapidly urbanizing environment. The paper will show how USA's planning process integrates community input to:

Develop a watershed vision

Develop selection criteria that link directly to the community's vision

Weight selection criteria for flood management, water quality improvement and protection, fish and wildlife benefits and community values

Evaluate and select multiple objective projects without losing single objective common sense solutions

Engage the Project Committee from beginning to end; and

Ensure the Plan is flexible enough to meet changing regulatory expectations.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2000

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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