Conduct Public Outreach

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Watershed Management Process
Build Partnerships
Characterize the Watershed
Set Goals and Identify Solutions
Design an Implementation Program
Implement the Watershed Plan
Measure Progress and Make Adjustments

Incorporating information/education (I/E) activities throughout the watershed management process is essential to building support for development and implementation of the watershed plan. I/E activities (also called outreach) are needed at the very beginning of the watershed planning effort to make potential partners and stakeholders aware of the issues, recruit them to participate, and educate them on the watershed management process. Often a separate outreach and education committee is created under the umbrella of the watershed planning team. This committee can help develop related materials and a strategy for integrating I/E into the overall watershed management effort.

Outreach materials and activities should be designed to raise public awareness, educate people on effective management practices, and motivate people to participate in the decision-making process or in the implementation of actions to restore and protect water quality. To achieve these objectives, you should communicate effectively with a wide range of audiences or groups. Having individual stakeholders reach out to their constituents or peer groups about actions that need to be taken to improve and maintain water quality is one effective method for promoting awareness and participation. Remember that your I/E activities should be targeted to specific audiences and will change over time as you develop and implement your watershed plan. Chapter 12 (PDF, 713 kb, 38 pp.) of EPA's Watershed Handbook provides more detail on the I/E component.