2017 Pacific Northwest Stakeholder Engagement Workshop

Understanding water challenges, success stories, and potential solutions


Date: July 13, 2017 9:30 am – 3:00 pm

Location: Chemeketa Eola Events Center 215 Doaks Ferry Road NW Salem, OR 97304


The UWIN 2017 National Pacific Northwest Stakeholder Science Workshop convened stakeholders and researchers in a day of insightful and critically important discussion on the pathways to integrated water management in the region.  The meeting represented the 2nd National Team UWIN engagement at the Chemeketa Eola meeting site.  After a brief update on the UWIN project, which included results from the first year of national stakeholder workshops, participants had a facilitated discussion. The discussion focused on potential pathways toward integrated urban water management and the complex nature of obstacles that stand in the way of progress toward solutions.  To start the conversation, a presentation on funding and finance mechanisms for integrated water solutions was provided by UWIN researcher, Alex Maas. During the afternoon sessions, participants expanded upon the morning’s conversation to include potential mechanisms to help the region overcome the barriers which they had identified.  We also heard from a Stakeholder Advisory Committee member about an innovative project underway in the region.  Discussions allowed the group to collaboratively identify research questions and to improve researchers’ understanding of the decision context.  The table below identifies the pathways that were discussed as well as the barriers and potential responses shared by stakeholders.


Twenty individuals, representing city and county government agencies, community based non-profits, and university-based research teams were in attendance.

Key Findings

Finally, participants shared their major take-away lessons from the workshop, which are listed below.

  • Fourth leg of triple bottom line is CULTURE
  • We need to improve our understanding of affordability
  • There are tremendous success stories here, we need to document and learn about them
  • Struck by good intentions and desire to make the world better
  • Great interest in place making and place based efforts
  • There is a need for federal and state dollars for a completely new approach to water management, a new governance approach. What would that look like? We need the “charter school” for watershed management.
  • The current system is not moving fast enough or big enough to protect what we have
  • It is extremely difficult to take people out of the box
  • Education and culture go hand in hand
  • How to scale up successes in metro area and broaden efforts to smaller and low capacity utilities in the state
Pathway to integrated urban water management  Barriers to

Responses to overcome barriers

Improve marketing/ communication about stormwater services Utilities struggle with what to call stormwater so that they can charge a fee for it.  Is it a service?



There is a need to broaden benefits- Is the person who is paying getting the benefits?


Need to improve coordination across agencies, funding could be reduced for independent agencies (Ex. crews doing maintenance, etc. would be reduced, creating disincentives for integration)



How can we structure relationships to be more transparent?  Regionalization depends on relationships and trust in order for folks to let go of holds, rights, etc.




Can we call it clean water service?

Possibly combine bills across services (sewer, drinking water, stormwater, wastewater)


Create larger rate base by expanding regional approach



Look for approaches for consolidation and models of how to transition (Ex. top-down mandates sometimes work, but bottom-up grass roots coordination often work better)


Model for unification through relationship building depends on trust, communication, marketing, funding, efficiency, proof of concept, and models to show impacts, peer to peer organizing including folks with some power might be effective


Examine legal pathways Statutes can be prohibitive to One Water goals (Ex. Prop 218- Some court interpretations of the law constrain important tools that local governments need to provide stormwater management) Introduce legal mechanisms that

enable improvements in stormwater management


Consider rate increases Questions about affordability, lack of willingness to pay need to be understood, need to understand how many folks are burdened by water costs

(Ex. need to understand if the public push back is because of actual affordability or willingness to pay…if it is wtp, marketing needs to be fixed)


Unsure how to account for negative externalities including ecosystem health


Rate structures are constraining and complicated


Affordability standards need to be updated, these are out of date


Chronic stress caused by bills, regulatory compliance is not a sellable rate increase justification, disease reduction is


Willingness to pay disconnect can be fixed through communication/ marketing


New and/or redesigned metrics (Ex. UNC fee for services dashboard which allows you to compare rates/costs)


Utilities need to have a broader mission, that includes public health, stream health, natural ecosystem health, connections across watershed and community health, and include these in rate structure  (Capture green issues in rate structure by incorporating ecosystem services)


Change rate structures to be more progressive (they are regressive now) and include health considerations (Ex. What is the utility burden and the health impact of this burden?)

Disaggregate data to better understand issues/ impacts and improve understanding of disaggregated sets of data


Use private land for stormwater management Public investment on private land is not allowed


Statutory solutions are needed
Enhance mission of utilities – integrate all utilities under same umbrella, including those that are not up to high standards, including depts of health and natural resources




Some utilities have not raised rate structure, many are really far behind


Mission issue of utility: are services (eco, health, etc) outside of mission?  Can rate increases be supported to enhance these benefits?


Need to broaden efforts and coordinate across agencies, economic development, health, roads, and all water agencies, etc.

Recognize those who are ahead of the game, bring up those who are behind


Economics favors regionalization Work with motivators: public officials are motivated by health, economic competitiveness, jobs, etc.


Expand scope


Look for case studies of change or integration that are not driven by regulation (Ex. Clean Water Services and blue-green algae response)


Create culture of innovation Regulatory efforts are constraining


Agency culture can be limiting


People on board may not be bought in


Inspire and build leaders

Think about who you hire and how folks on team view/ respond to regulations

Broaden funding sources Limits to funding sources constrain missions and capacity Work across all agencies

FWS- feds, ag folks, community members to increase funding




Highlight successes and communicate about them (Ex. Place based planning effort by state Oregon Water Resources Dept.) Limited communication of successes


Lacking involvement of citizens in planning

Bridge diverse interests and groups through facilitation across local groups


Facilitate local planning (Ex. Dept provides technical assistance, goal is to have a pathway to fix water problems identified by local communities, folks are excited and incentivized by funding which has been made available)


Engage in partnership building Connecting people to projects

“the river is the icon of Portland”

establish visceral connection to river/ waterways


It takes a lot of energy and work to reconnect people to the river/ water


Culture needs to be included in triple bottom line


Partnerships have to be expanded to move to scale: these depend on trust, common language, core values, communication


Work with outreach specialists to ensure that water as a natural resource is embedded in the culture


Use social media


Engage in common purpose building- have communities come to agreement on something (adopting the river)/ place based thinking


Conduct focus groups (Ex. “Taber to the river” project)


Expand reclaimed water use Piping water from waste water treatment plant to where it needs to be used…where is money for doing this?


Improve conservation Disincentives of income generation and conservation Look to peak demand reductions as these stress systems and these reductions may be easier to sell


Expand C&I reductions through participation in Water Sense and other reduction programs



Workshop Goals:

This workshop will focus on institutional (technical, policy, financial, human) pathways that foster transition toward coordinated, aligned, and integrated management of urban water systems. Perspectives, suggestions, and feedback from meeting participants will inform and shape the UWIN National Blueprint. Meeting activities will advance understanding of factors that influence coordinated and aligned actions and decision-making. Information will be synthesized and summarized to help UWIN researchers create actionable science in subsequent years. The meeting will also foster networking/relationship-building between participants within the Pacific Northwest, across the Nation, and with the UWIN research team.

Location:  Chemeketa Eola Events Center 215 Doaks Ferry Road NW Salem, OR 97304


9:30 am – 10:00 am Continental Breakfast

Pre-workshop survey

10:00 am – 10:30 am Welcome, Introductions, Year One Review

Welcome, Introductions, Year One Review

Roy Haggerty, local host: Welcome

Mike Sukop: Stakeholder and UWIN self-introductions, agenda overview, what we heard from you last year

Gary Pivo :  Description of Integrated Urban Water Management approaches with focus on institutional processes, description of blueprint and why one is needed, models of success

10:30 am – 12:00 pm Session #1:  Futures, Pathways, and Institutional Policy Innovations for Coordinated, Aligned, and Integrated management of Urban Water Systems


Focus: Explore potential IUWM futures and pathways, identifying attributes (social, technological, economic, environmental) of each, informing the Blueprint; select 3 priority pathways/solutions for unpacking in Session #3

12:00 pm – 1:30 pm Lunch
Session #2: “Integrated Water Management: Funding, Financing, and the Future”
Focus: Current water system funding and financing, alternative models, and case studies illustrating strategies for funding and financing IUWM
1:30 pm – 2:30 pm Session #3:  Futures, Pathways, and Institutional Policy Innovations for Coordinated, Aligned, and Integrated management of Urban Water Systems (Continued)


Focus: Building on Session #1 and lunch discussion, explore highest priority futures and pathways in terms of targets, goals, metrics, and barriers to implementation and potential responses to overcome them

2:30 pm – 3:00 pm Workshop Closing Discussion, Synthesis

Mike Sukop

What are your take-aways? Next steps.