Sewer systems fall in that category of “things people don’t want to talk about.” You want it to work, but don’t necessarily want to learn the, well, inside poop, and you don’t want it in your neighborhood. So when King County was directed to ensure that there weren’t combined sewer overflows (CSO) at Murray Basin Pump Station more than once per year, they knew it would be a challenge to engage the community in an honest discussion about a unpleasant topic. EnviroIssues joined the team to start a conversation about where the County could place a CSO storage facility.
On average, the Murray Pump Station in West Seattle releases five untreated CSO events per year, discharging five million gallons into Puget Sound off Lowman Beach Park, so a decision about a new location had to made, and quickly. The county’s original proposal – which offered three potential locations - was met with community resistance. EnviroIssues was brought on board to convene and facilitate two groups: a community advisory group to assist during the site selection process, and a design advisory group to assist during preliminary design. Perhaps most importantly, EnviroIssues provided strategic advice and overall support for the County’s public involvement and outreach, leveraging their resources so that all of the stakeholders and community members who wanted to could have a role in the decision-making process.
The community advisory group that EnviroIssues convened and facilitated provided the County with a list of five top potential locations. The eventual choice – a facility on private property across from Lowman Park – was on that list. Through effective facilitation of the advisory groups, and through a variety of both proven and newer, creative efforts, EnviroIssues implemented an effective, efficient communications and outreach strategy that resulted in a successful site selection.