The utilities and municipal departments that manage wastewater and stormwater provide essential services to residents and business and in turn, depend upon ratepayer support. This relationship is increasingly critical in the 21 New Jersey cities where major upgrades to combined sewer systems are now required by regulation. Ratepayer participation and ultimately support for capital investment start with public awareness and the flow of information.
In Fall 2016, experts from DC Water’s consulting arm, Blue Drop, conducted five workshops for New Jersey’s cities and utilities on how to successfully make the case for water infrastructure investment that were co-presented by Jersey Water Works the NJ Urban Mayors Association and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection.
The DC Water representatives shared key communications strategies and techniques they used to build public support for Clean Rivers, including branding and visual identity, ways to celebrate success, effective public meetings and the use of social media. Leading the workshops was Alan Heyman, chief marketing officer at DC Water; John Lisle, chief of external affairs; Ted Coyle, a multimedia specialist at the authority; and Emanuel Briggs, DC Water’s community outreach manager.
The workshops included:
- Three local kick-off meetings hosted by Mayor Christian Bollwage of Elizabeth, Mayor John Labrosse of Hackensack and Mayor Eric Jackson of Trenton.
- A full-day workshop, tailored specifically for officials and employees of cities and utilities with combined-sewer systems.
- A two-hour overview workshop, tailored to community groups and nonprofit organizations.
“Participation and investment begin with public awareness.” – Hackensack Mayor John P. Labrosse Jr.
After a competitive application process, one-on-one consulting was provided to the City of Newark, the City of Jersey City and the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission.
- The Newark Water and Sewer Department developed new ways to engage with the public, including a new Neighborhood Outreach Program to address flooding, an employee highlight in its annual consumer confidence report, and a children’s activity book.
- The Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission used its consultants in conjunction with Blue Drop to develop a new logo and brand “Clean Waterways Healthy Neighborhoods” as well as fact sheets on CSO solutions: downspout disconnection, sewer separation and green infrastructure.
- Jersey City’s Office of Innovation used DC Water’s advice to refine their Year of Water marketing plan and create a marketing package for Earth Day. They used graphics from DC Water to develop a flyer explaining combined sewer systems and ways to address them.
- Report: View Unearthing Infrastructure: Communicating Water Infrastructure to New Jersey’s Communities and Stakeholders, the guide written to capture the key takeaways from a series of kick-off meetings and workshops held in Fall 2016.
Below you’ll find example publications from DC Water and “raw files” of illustrations that you can insert into your local outreach materials.
- Sample Environmental Education Curriculum
- Environmental Education & Outreach Plan
- Children’s Activity Book (PDF) (Adobe Illustrator)
- Marketing package for Earth Day
- Combined sewer overflows (PDF) (Adobe Illustrator) (JPEG)
- Downspout disconnection (PDF) (Adobe Illustrator) (JPEG)
- Green infrastructure (.zip file download)
- Long term control plan (.zip file download)
- Employee Highlight
This effort was made possible by generous support from the Surdna Foundation to New Jersey Future, which facilitates the Jersey Water Works Collaborative.