Community awareness and education are crucial for programs related to public health. A communication plan with multiple touchpoints helps the community to develop an understanding of the issues, the scope of the project, and the steps being taken to complete it. Projects requiring property inspections and public feedback require clear and consistent communication support for an engaged and receptive community.
Recently, BCS Management has been working with the team at Walden Environmental Engineering (Walden) on a Lead Service Line Replacement Program (LSLRP) project for a municipal client on Long Island, requiring a variety of materials to keep the public informed as the project has progressed.
Last year, the client began work on a LSLRP. The program was in response to the Lead and Copper Rule released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in an effort to improve drinking water quality and safety.
The client’s Department of Public Works contracted Walden to perform inspections of structures in residential areas that could have lead water pipes connected to the homes. Walden contracted frequent partner BCS Management for database tracking of program areas and community outreach, based on our past partnerships for related municipal programs.
The client’s drinking water does not contain lead, but the corrosion of lead pipes and lead solder in a home can cause the substance to leach into drinking water. Lead can affect almost every organ and system in a person’s body, with children under six being the most susceptible to the effects of lead. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates 10 to 20 percent of the lead exposure in young children may come from drinking water. Exposure to lead can also negatively affect pregnant women and other adults.
The early stages of the LSLRP required the client’s Department of Public Works to collect information on residential areas that may have lead water pipes connected to their homes, based largely on when the homes were built. In the meantime, press releases, website resources, and information about the risks of lead in water were all made available to the public. Additionally, flyers outlining the identification of lead service lines were created and included in utility mailers for the targeted areas.
Following the project announcements, site visits began to visually identify and confirm service pipes. As pipes are confirmed to be lead, they are prioritized for replacement. Results are recorded in a database to track program areas and community outreach efforts. So far only two lead service lines have been confirmed since the start of the program.
Developing a Communications Plan for Public Works Projects
Any aspect of a project concerning public health should be presented with a variety of informational resources upon announcement. It’s also important to make sure information is accessible through a variety of mediums. The following includes (but is not limited to) a few different methods for communications plans.
Transparency in communications ensures that the community is aware of the progress made through frequent updates. Ultimately, this can help to create more awareness, which can make a big difference in programs who’s success relies on public feedback.
If you have questions about the use of a management company, contact Walden today at 516-758-1273.