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Stakeholder involvement is now an important piece of many water and wastewater decisions. The movement of environmental regulation away from technology-based standards to waterbased outcomes, such as the development of local TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) standards is often accompanied by requirements that responsible agencies or districts consult or otherwise involve stakeholders in water management decisions. Ever increasing water demands plus declining supplies imply difficult tradeoffs among agricultural, urban, ecological, industrial, and recreational water uses. Tradeoffs depend both on what technologies can achieve for local or regional water quality and the relative importance of competing stakeholder interests. Stakeholder involvement does not mean public relations or even risk communication, both of which connote one-way processes in which information is mostly provided to the public or stakeholders. Stakeholder participation involves at the least getting useful information from interested groups and individuals, and using that information somehow in the official decisionmaking process. Many managers involved with water or wastewater decisions misinterpret that role to mean turning decision-making authority held by district boards, city councils, or regulatory agencies over to ad hoc stakeholder groups. But stakeholder involvement first means broadening dialogue and debate preceding decisions involving plant expansions, water treatment changes, watershed agreements, reuse or conservation implementation, or rate adjustments. That dialogue is intended to influence decision-makers, but does not mean that they cede authority.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2002

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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 These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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