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Public Involvement Investment: Finding the “Sweet Spot in Utility Planning

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In response to a Consent Decree entered into Federal Court in August of 2005, the Louisville and Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) developed an Integrated Overflow Abatement Plan (IOAP) to control the community's combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs). The Consent Decree contained a provision for a public involvement and outreach program specifying that stakeholders should participate in the development and implementation of the Long–Term Control Plan and the Sanitary Sewer Discharge Plan.

Recognizing that the development of the IOAP Program would represent a major investment for the community, MSD committed an unprecedented level of effort in the public involvement and outreach program. This included forming a stakeholder group to assist in developing community support for the investments necessary to comply with the Consent Decree requirements. The overall investment in public involvement and outreach constituted almost 20 percent of the overall IOAP development costs. This substantial investment provided a rate of return in excess of 200 : 1, as the final IOAP costs were more than 1 billion less than initial “worst case” estimates of what might be required to achieve compliance with the Consent Decree.

Keywords: Education; Outreach; Public information; decision process; level of control; stakeholder involvement

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2011-01-01

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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 These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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