Skip to main content

“The Best Defense is a Good Offense” Dealing with Outrage before it Explodes!

Buy Article:

$17.50 plus tax (Refund Policy)

Or sign up for a free trial

Abstract:

The use of treated sewage solids or “biosolids” for its fertilizing properties has made a resurgence among water industry professionals, farmers and horticulturists in recent years. However, the use of this beneficial material on rural land has come in conflict with urban sprawl. Negative public perception related to biosolids recycling has resulted in many community members raising nuisance complaints to local officials. Determining how to deal with outrage before it becomes unmanageable has been a major stumbling block to the sustainable biosolids recycling program.

The Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) was recently made aware of anticipated nuisance concerns when we starting receiving complaints about OCSD's interest in a proposed biosolids compost project. The complaints came from outraged citizens who lived near the proposed compost site and feared what this type of facility would do to their neighborhood.

The reason these individuals were so upset was because an anonymous flyer with fictitious, inflammatory, and negative information about the project was distributed to their community. It was at this point that OCSD and the compost site manager went on the offensive to begin a process of addressing this outrage before it exploded into something unmanageable. This proactive effort was accomplished through correspondence with upset community members, distribution of outreach material, and community meetings.

The results of this outreach were surprising, and at first appeared to have backfired. However, we believe that most of the outrage faded because we responded to community members concerns immediately, were able to address the perception issues and nuisance concerns through various means and began to develop relationships with the affected community.

The agency gathered the letters and phone messages from these community members and corresponded with every single person. Phone calls we returned with phone calls and letters with letters. We took the time to explain to these individuals about our agency, biosolids, and numerous regulations, the proposed project, and answered all the allegations in the flyer. In many cases we gave community members the names and numbers of staff at regulatory agencies that oversee biosolids management and composting so they could independently verify what we were saying about governing regulations and oversight. We also forwarded the letters and phone messages to the manager of the compost site so he could also speak to these individuals.

Following up with the initial correspondence we assisted the compost site manager with hosting community meetings to explain the project in detail and address additional concerns. We also developed a fact sheet on the proposed compost site that explained the project, OCSD's interest in it, and that we were committed to enclosure and biofilters to limit odors.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2175/193864703784292665

Publication date: 2003-01-01

More about this publication?
  • 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.

    A subscription to the Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation includes access to most papers presented at the annual WEF Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) and other conferences held since 2000. Subscription access begins 12 months after the event and is valid for 12 months from month of purchase. A subscription to the Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is included in Water Environment Federation (WEF) membership.

    WEF Members: Sign in (right panel) with your IngentaConnect user name and password to receive complimentary access. Access begins 12 months after the conference or event
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • Membership Information
  • About WEF Proceedings
  • WEFTEC Conference Information
  • Learn about the many other WEF member benefits and join today
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
X
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more