San Francisco’s Recycled Water Master Plan
Public Participation Strategy and Environmental Impact Report
In 2004, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) decided to prepare a comprehensive update to the City’s Recycled Water Master Plan. The goal was to maximize the use of recycled water, thereby enhancing conservation of the city's fresh water supply. The SFPUC retained Alfred Williams Consultancy, LLC (AWC) to help develop and implement a comprehensive strategy for maximizing public participation in this complex project and to help prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR)
The City had a wide variety of technical options to consider, including the best technology for water processing and storage, the best locations for processing plants and the most appropriate uses for recycled water. Clearly, the Recycled Water Master Plan was a project of great concern to constituencies across San Francisco.
The multi-faceted public outreach role assigned to AWC was therefore as crucial as it was challenging. That role was to identify and reach out to key stakeholders on this issue throughout San Francisco and to help craft an effective strategy for communicating the project's vital environmental components. Central to this work was messaging aimed at assuring the safety and reliability of using recycled water for a wide range of everyday uses.
In addition, AWC helped plan, publicize and facilitate a series of public workshops across San Francisco at critical points in the EIR process. There was first a round of scoping meetings to allow the public input on the range of concerns the revised Recycled Water Master Plan should strive to address. Once the scope and goals of the project were set, the next round of meetings helped the SFPUC and San Francisco residents share ideas about the best methodology for reaching those goals. In addition to the planning and publicity role, Williams facilitated the meetings themselves, in many cases acting as "interpreter" to ensure that technical information was clearly communicated.
The expertise and efficiency of AWC in crafting communication strategy, identifying stakeholders throughout San Francisco and facilitating public meetings was crucial to the process of maximizing public input and creating the best possible Recycled Water Master Plan for the City of San Francisco.