The “Our County” Strategic Engagement Team invited nonprofit organizations throughout Los Angeles County to provide input on the topic of Water for the County’s first sustainability plan.
The “Water and People” workshop, held on June 28, 2018 at The California Endowment, attracted over 80 attendees from nonprofit organizations, several public agencies, and members of the “Our County” Strategic Engagement team.
The workshop provided an explanation of how the “Our County” plan will be developed and an overview of water issues the County faces. After introducing the draft water goals from the Our County Water Briefing document, attendees provided general feedback on broad water goals in a plenary discussion format. In the second session, attendees were broken up into three different groups according to their topic of interest (Housing and Land Use, Economy and Workforce Development, and Public Health and Safety). Participants in each morning section were asked to provide comments on the proposed Water Goals as it related to the topic, and then report back to the larger group.
After a lunch break, the last session involved an interactive exercise that allowed participants to write their own recommendations to the plan. After posting their proposals on butcher papers, they had the opportunity to vote for their priority recommendations via dot stickers. Throughout the exercise, facilitators were present to help spur discussion while computer notetakers transcribed comments.
While each nonprofit organization brought their own unique set of recommendations and input for the “Our County” plan, there was general support for the proposed Water Goals. Additionally, several common themes emerged throughout the workshop that either seek to address missing issues or enhance the Water Goals. The following are the top water-related themes identified, in no particular order:
- The issue of governance and accountability was brought up at every workshop session. Individuals expressed the need for a simpler water governance structure for better coordination throughout the County, stronger oversight bodies, and more inclusive public participation processes, including greater representation from low-income communities on decision-making boards. Further, participants advocated for better consultation with tribal governments.
- The need for comprehensive water literacy through strategic education initiatives was mentioned consistently by attendees. Many advocated for more culturally meaningful engagement opportunities for the public, particularly youth, to interact and learn about water including water quality and efficiency programs and practices, as well as access to outdoor water activities.
- The elimination of water related impacts on and prioritization of benefits to historically polluted communities was repeatedly mentioned. From stronger enforcement and regulation of industries to targeted infrastructure investments, participants voiced support for focused efforts to improve the quality of life of low income residents with sufficient policies in place to safeguard communities from displacement pressures.
- The use of regenerative nature-based infrastructure for improved water efficiency and quality. Several individuals expressed the multiple benefits from environmentally sustainable, natural retrofits to the built environment to promote better water conservation practices, such as stormwater infiltration, grey water systems, permeable pavement and drought-tolerant landscaping.
- The creation of a diverse and inclusive workforce in water-related careers. Participants brought up the need for stronger workforce development and local hire initiatives that build a career pipeline for unemployed and underemployed residents throughout the County.
Comments on the key recommendations can be directed to email@example.com.
Read more in the Water Nonprofit Workshop Summary
Download the Water Nonprofit Workshop Notes
Download the Water Nonprofit Workshop Presentation
Download the Our County Water Briefing