Water Journal : Water Journal February 2014
WATER FEBRUARY 2014 44 Feature Article • The potential to impact on the natural environment; • The exibility to respond to drought in stages, without locking out other options in the future. Quantitative data on consistency with community values was collected directly from the community and stakeholder workshops on options. Participants at each table were allocated one of the community values developed in earlier workshops. The key features of the options were presented a few at a time, and participants at each table then selected those options that best re ected their assigned value. The number of times each option was selected was counted (Figure 1), and the total count from three separate workshops was input into the MCDA for the criterion of 'consistency with community values' (Figure 2). This approach directly applied the feedback from the community in a manner that avoided risk of bias or misinterpretation. The outcomes of the MCDA guided the development of portfolios, which were outlined in a discussion paper released as background material for the nal set of workshops. Again, community feedback from these workshops was fed directly into the process to evaluate portfolios. Participants at the workshops considered trade-offs among the cost, drought security and environmental features of six potential portfolios. They then ranked the portfolios and recorded the reasons for their preferences. This provided both quantitative data (rankings) and qualitative information (reasons) that were combined with expert evaluation in selecting the recommended portfolio for the Lower Hunter Water Plan. Likewise, the evaluation process for the review of the Metropolitan Water Plan is being developed in a way that will enable the outcomes of community engagement to be integrated into the evaluation process. The multi-faceted community engagement process adopted for the development of the Lower Hunter Water Plan and review of the Metropolitan Water Plans provides a number of direct and indirect bene ts. Engagement is a two-way process, with the community bene ting as much as the provider. The continued involvement of participants in the planning and review processes improves their water literacy and level of engagement with the process. This allows the community to provide informed feedback on the Plans. Community preferences have and will be re ected in the nal analysis of portfolios of options to secure water supplies, facilitating community understanding and acceptance of the nal Plans. We have also gained insight into how people use water and what is important to them, helping us better forecast demand for water and target education campaigns to segments of the community. This has demonstrated that a well-conceived and integrated community engagement program is critical to robust planning. WJ Figure 2. Weighted ranking of options against ve criteria. THE AUTHORS Ruby Gamble (email: ruby.gamble@ nance. nsw.gov.au) is Senior Community Engagement Of cer for the Metropolitan Water Directorate and leads community engagement for greater Sydney's Metropolitan Water Plan review. Cathy Cole is the Metropolitan Water Directorate's Project Manager for the Lower Hunter Water Plan. Cathy is an engineer with extensive experience in the water industry and natural resource management.
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