Willamette Water Supply Program: Making sure our taps do not run dry

Willamette Water Supply Program: Making sure our taps do not run dry

Overview

The challenge of building and paying for public infrastructure is a growing problem across the nation. Projects, whether roads, sewers or fresh drinking water systems, are enormously complex. They are expensive, take a decade or more to plan and build and extend over many political cycles. Add to this mixture, environmental permitting and concerns about growth and land use and it is easy to see how proposed large public infrastructure projects can fall off the rails.

Challenge

Tualatin Valley Water District and the City of Hillsboro retained CFM to provide ongoing public affairs counsel to support their Willamette River Water Supply program. The billion-dollar water project will bring Willamette River water into densely populated north Washington County communities in 2026.  CFM was asked to help program leaders anticipate and address public and elected leader concerns before they arose.

Approach

CFM was incorporated into the project planning team from its first day, working in harness with engineers, planners, and public outreach specialists. CFM contributed its knowledge of Washington County communities to the project’s risk register. The firm’s relationships with leaders from across the county allowed it to provide early briefings about the project to elected officials, business leaders and other significant stakeholders.

A scenario-driven crisis communications plan was developed and key project leaders received media training. A public affairs working group, consisting of project leadership and CFM staff, meets on a regular basis to ensure that every challenge is evaluated and addressed well before problems bubble to the surface.

Result

The Willamette Water Supply Program has in place strong working relationships with each of the jurisdictions it will touch. CFM continues to manage what amounts to an early warning system that will allow project leaders to respond quickly and effectively to public concerns as they arise.