Skip to main content


Buy Article:

$17.50 plus tax (Refund Policy)

Or sign up for a free trial


Siting a new facility in a neighborhood is always challenging for water agencies. But what if that neighborhood were in a relatively tranquil, non-urbanized area and the facility were sized to meet regional needs extending many miles away? To add a little more interest, what if the facility would come with lighting and noise that the neighbors chose to leave behind when they moved to the “country?” Now add a few chemical deliveries into the mix, and throw in construction traffic. Your water agency would face a host of community challenges beyond what is typically expected with facility siting.

The San Diego County Water Authority's proposal for a new water treatment facility that would treat up to 100 million gallons of water a day for residents and businesses throughout San Diego County faced all of these challenges and more. This paper will outline the Water Authority's approach to “beginning at the beginning” – gaining community support long before design and construction.

The Water Authority typically imports up to 90 percent of the water used in the county from a single water supplier, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. In the very near future, increased demands on MWD's treated water supplies threaten to leave some cities and water districts in San Diego County short of treated water. To prepare for this probable occurrence, the Water Authority proposed a site for a new regional facility in Twin Oaks Valley, a semirural community. The Water Authority owns the property, and the location has several other advantages – but the neighbors didn't necessarily see it that way.

Given the concerns that were voiced by community members before any work on the facility had begun, the Water Authority knew it would need to get the public involved in the project right from the beginning. The Water Authority's public affairs, environmental and engineering staff, and the community outreach consultant, Katz & Associates, began developing an approach that would allow community members to work with the project team to resolve concerns and help shape the project.

One of the key elements in the public outreach approach was that the public affairs representative established one-on-one contact with community members. Information materials and community presentations were developed through a team effort. But the key to involving the community and obtaining their feedback was a working group the Water Authority assembled, composed of residents living near the facility site, representatives of community organizations and a business representative.

This paper will outline the public outreach and involvement steps the Water Authority and its consultant have taken so that other agencies can develop similar programs if appropriate. While there may be some bumps in the road ahead, the Water Authority feels it is starting from a better place. One community member summed it up by saying, “I would like to personally thank the San Diego County Water Authority for the way it got the community involved early in the process… We all worked together to come up with a way to blend this into Twin Oaks Valley."

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2006-01-01

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
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