Upgrading the water systems in New Jersey’s cities and towns is a generational challenge that must serve the residents and businesses who pay the bills, and the elected officials responsible for addressing a host of community issues.
Effective community engagement processes feature active the participation of community partners and ratepayers, who are able to influence the planning and management of their water infrastructure. Community support is also reflected in municipal plans, ordinances.
Jersey Water Works Social Media Toolkit on Water Infrastructure
The Jersey Water Works Community Engagement Committee has compiled memes, posts and tweets that can be used to help you raise awareness about combined-sewer overflow pollution, flooding, runoff and the need for water infrastructure investment. Our goal is to engage stakeholders and the public in water infrastructure issues.
Use these posts, tweets and memes strategically on days like; “Imagine a Day without Water” to educate the public on water infrastructure issues. We recommend that you always include images and appropriate hashtags with all of your social media posts to increase engagement.
For posting times, organizations should follow what works best as a result of your own internal analytics, but in general: Facebook: weekdays, especially Thursdays and Fridays in the midday hours between 12pm and 3pm. Twitter: weekdays around lunch and after work hours, multiple times a day. Instagram: weekdays after work hours. Many social media management platforms, such as Tweetdeck and Buffer, will allow you to schedule these in advance.
Help people connect the dots during heavy rainstorms with posts that highlight the connection between our aging water infrastructure and flooding, and keep the discussion going on the need to invest in our water infrastructure.
We’ve also included a list of annual events, both national and international, around which we can organize our efforts.
Suggested Facebook posts (Always include images and appropriate hashtags with all of your social media posts to increase engagement):
Monthly water related events calendar:
Educational Resources for the Classroom Inside and Outside of School
The Jersey Water Works Community Engagement Committee worked with a New Jersey Future intern to compile educational resources on water infrastructure that can be used inside and outside of school. We separated the content by what we thought would be most useful for inside and outside of the classroom. Videos, for example, are in the section for outside of the classroom but could be used to supplement a classroom lesson as well. In addition, there are sets of activities for students across grades, which have been further subdivided into categories: Non-Point Source Solutions; Stormwater; Water Cycle; Water Supply and Wastewater; Watershed; Water Quality; and Miscellaneous.
Resources for outside the classroom, by subject:
Resources for inside the classroom:
Opportunities for Municipal Clean Water Utilities to Advance Environmental Justice & Community Service
The National Association of Clean Water Agencies prepared this report to increase awareness of the many benefits America’s clean water utilities provide to their communities. The projects in this compendium represent efforts by NACWA members to reach beyond the traditional model of simply conveying and treating wastewater and stormwater, to become assets and partners in their communities. Some of the projects included in this compendium represent work to address specific environmental justice issues, while others are examples of efforts by clean water utilities to better serve their communities as a whole.
Opportunities for Municipal Clean Water Utilities to Advance Environmental Justice & Community Service (National Association of Clean Water Agencies)
DC Water Materials — Connecting with Stakeholders on Water Infrastructure
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 (link). 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
- Marketing package for Earth Day
- Flyers explaining combined sewer systems, downspout disconnection, sewer separation and green infrastructure