CDR designed and facilitated a highly participatory day-long public workshop for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MET) in which the agency shared information, received input from stakeholders, and discussed strategies for updating its Integrated Water Resources Plan (IRP). MET is the largest supplier of treated water in the U.S., and provides water for 19 million customers in the Los Angeles area.
MET updates its IRP every five years with an extensive public input process. In this workshop, MET wanted to go beyond presenting information and soliciting formal public comments to include an opportunity for dialogue with stakeholders about the proposed resource plan. To accomplish this goal, CDR facilitators designed and conducted a process that enabled MET to provide information, answer questions and engage in meaningful and challenging discussions on water planning strategies and priorities. The result was a day of substantive keynote and informal panel presentations, workshop-style discussion and exchange, public meeting-style comments and questions, and lively in-person and on-line participation with hundreds of participants. Workshop participants included member agencies, elected officials, water managers, non-governmental organizations, private industry representatives, activists, academics, and other concerned citizens. Attendees provided input on how MET could manage its water resources and reconcile controversial supplies and uses and competing demands under severe drought conditions.
The IRP workshop underscored the complexity of soliciting meaningful input and participation in an agency-driven planning process that involves highly technical science and policy issues, controversial infrastructure projects, and resources critical to millions of people’s lives. The level of engagement and interest was underscored by the number of participants who stayed well after the meeting for one-on-one discussions with MET staff. MET hopes to perpetuate this type of participatory, in-depth stakeholder engagement in its public consultations moving forward. The IRP workshop followed an earlier process designed and facilitated by CDR to assist MET and its partners to address and coordinate conjunctive management of water resources in the region.