The Worst Time to Seek Local and State Approval for Expanding Groundwater Demand is During a 5-Year Drought. But Ananda Village did it and Operation Unite® Helped.
OPERATION UNITE® DEMONSTRATION PROJECT
BUILDING PUBLIC RESPONSIBILITY
ANANDA VILLAGE, NEVADA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
GOAL OF PUBLIC RESPONSIBILITY DEMONSTRATION PROJECT
The intent of this public relations project is four-fold:
- To develop in the Ananda Village community an awareness of their real water conditions and vulnerability to water scarcity;
- To educate Ananda Village residents and neighboring property owners of their management responsibilities and the management process being placed into the Ananda Village groundwater management plan; and
- To educate and build confidence in the Nevada County and State agencies involved in reviewing and approving the expansion plan with respect to the groundwater supply of the community and neighboring citizens,
- Creation of a monitoring program built on developing certainty in aquifer behavior understanding and a management plan that focuses on Ananda Village goals and protection of surrounding property owners.
COMMON COMMUNITY GOAL
The common community goal was to create and maintain a groundwater supply that does not create adverse impacts to neighboring properties while providing adequate water for the anticipated population at Ananda Village.
CORE COMMON COMMUNITY VALUES
The common community values at Ananda Village were characterized as:
- Good faith; and
- For the good of the whole.
The Ananda Village strategy was built on transparency, demonstration of responsibility, respect and trust and best science.
The strategy was three-fold:
- Provide Ananda Village overwhelming information on groundwater conditions, temporally and spatially, on the Ananda Village property that educates the regulatory community with supportive data and a groundwater management plan that creates a safety net for Ananda Village and surrounding land owners.
- Create a continuous presence in the general public of Operation Unite® and its mission, the importance of water and the technical aspects that control water supply and environmental health for Nevada County and Ananda Village citizens.
- Build an adaptive capacity within the Ananda Village community to respond to drought and lower personal and facility long-term daily groundwater use.
Implementation of the strategy was also facilitated by conducting near-continuous messaging at the Operation Unite® Facebook page, Operation Unite® website, Operation Unite® weekly emails, weekly radio news, monthly radio news and community television (limited duration). These vehicles for messaging provided more general and broad view points related to groundwater use and management and community values.
TABLE 1. PUBLIC RELATIONSHIP BUILDING TOOLS USED IN THIS PROJECT
May-1410-yr Fractured Rock Aquifer Study Presentation
2015-2017Weekly News (liberal radio station)
2015-2017Monthly News (conservative radio station)
2015-2017Continuous Announcements Regarding Meetings with "Water Buffaloes" in Western States
2015-2017Meetings with Nevada County and State Regulatory Agencies on Project
2016-2017Operation Unite Website
May-15Climate Change Presentation
May-15Developed First Neighborhood Water Alliance Group
June-15Climate Change Video
June- August 2015Drought Tips
June- August 2015Know Your Water - Ananda Village Video
June-15Round Table (permit exempt wells, the individual)
June- September 2015Nevada County Community Television
June-15Special Guest at Farmers Market
July- August 2015Water Conservation Video
July- August 2015Ranching and Drought Video
July-15World Music Festival Presentation
July-15Round Table (permit exempt wells, the regulatory responsibility)
March-16Round Table with Representatives from the Republican, Democratic parties and the Tea Party
June-16Presentation with the Democratic Party on Public Responsibility on Water Issues
October-16Meet the Experts Workshop
February-17ABC Channel 10 News Coverage of Ananda Village Groundwater Management
May-17Public Planning Commission Meeting
June-17Board of Supervisor Meeting
Extensive groundwater monitoring and frequent analysis in the study facilitated a best science demonstration of the active components of the Ananda Village technical program. The Ananda Village community and general public efforts are focused on education at the individual, neighborhood and community levels. An effort was made to expand contact with both oppositional and agreeable citizens and groups to the Ananda Village project.
Outcomes that reflect Ananda Village program successes were recognized; 1) within the Ananda Village community, 2) the acceptance by the regulators in approving the expansion plan and groundwater management program for Ananda Village and lastly, 3) the minimal level of public push back experienced during the public planning commission meeting for the Ananda Village project.
Collaborative relationships were generated at three levels; regulatory, within the Ananda Village community and property owners surrounding Ananda Village.
The Operation Unite® relationship building program built transparency and a collaborative spirit with the regulating community overseeing the Ananda Village project. Local county staff turnover made it necessary to revisit the county multiple times. This increased “face time” helped develop a positive, responsible working relationship between the groups. Concerns and needs by the regulatory community were addressed in detail and with vocal and written explanations. Modifications and adjustments were made as important points were raised by Ananda Village and the regulators. Operation Unite® and Ananda Village illustrated new ideas while simultaneously being attentive to the rigorous requirements that the regulatory oversight team had to navigate through and ultimately satisfy. County and State processes were respected and addressed directly and with competence by Ananda Village.
The Ananda Village community was charged with learning and exercising practices that reduced overall daily consumptive use of water per person. This was measured and compared to the mandatory reductions required by Governor Brown of California. Ananda Village reduced their water use by 36 percent compared to year 2013 water demand.
Surrounding property owners to Ananda Village were engaged directly and indirectly through the program. Broadcasts, emails, direct contact and community eventscreated good communication with the community, at large. Ultimately, oppositional positions regarding water supply were few during the public planning commission meeting. This was achieved by continued communication between Ananda Village and the surrounding property owners, trust building that had developed through interactions with Operation Unite® and Ananda Village, education in effective groundwater management and earned public trust in Ananda Village’s intent to be “For the Good of the Whole” and consistent in “Acting in Good Faith.” Outward demonstration of the Ananda Village values resonated with the surrounding community.
This study was funded by Operation Unite® Founder Stephen Baker with donations from KVMR. Several data loggers were donated by Global Water Instrumentation, Incorporated or purchased by individual well owners. A special thanks to the U.S. Geological Survey for providing technical and experiential knowledge in the use and application of data loggers. Thank you also to all well owners that volunteered their wells for this study. In addition, expertise for well head modification design on volunteered wells was completed with skill and confidence by Ron Best. Thank you for all of your work.
Peter Goering, Ramu Atwell and Leah Kirk of the Ananda Village water department and their community demonstrated an exceptional commitment to looking at the facts, staying true to their community values and demonstrating the discipline and skill to reduce their water use. This was particularly apparent during the 5-year duration drought experienced in California.
The Nevada County Planning and Environmental Health departments provided an exemplary example of collaborative interactions necessary for satisfying state and local water supply requirements while optimizing the future vision pursued by Ananda Village.
The honest and enthusiastic San Juan Tax Payer’s Association is recognized for its commitment to the community, openness to new ideas and passion in building resiliency and a sustainable groundwater supply for all.
The public forum gained great credibility due to the contributions made by Chip Close of Nevada Irrigation District, Chris Paulus of Cal Fire, Vic Ferrera of Nevada County Operation of Emergency Services and local media. Sharing of drought tips and other water efficiency ideas was generously provided by Jim Gates of Nevada County Free Range Beef, Kyle at Fodder Farms, Ina Elrod of Penn Valley, Deb Fox for organizing and including Operation Unite® in the World Music Festival lecture series and the many contributors for the Drought Tips short segments. Gratitude is extended to over 200 people interviewed for Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing short radio segments from around the United States, India, Afghanistan, Yemen and South Korea. These individuals shared their intimate stories that touched the hearts and intellect of many listeners in Nevada and surrounding Counties.
Round table successes were directly accomplished because of efforts of Paul Emery and the KVMR staff and our knowledgeable and passionate guests; Garret McInnis, H2O to Go, John Becht, Craig Ruben, Jack Kuehn, Vic Ferrera, Nevada County Operations of Emergency Services, the San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisor Frank Mecham, Tom Tebb, Washington Department of Ecology, Jim Schwab, American Planning Association and Atman Goering of Ananda Village.
Valuable discussions were provided by the Nevada County Republican, Democratic and Tea parties concerning awareness of water issues and suitable mitigation choices during a pre-election radio round table talk broadcast. In addition, the Democratic Party provided a stage for Operation Unite® to educate its party on groundwater in the foothills and water for Californians.
Appreciation is also extended to the nearly 25 individuals that met numerous times to work out the details of the first Neighborhood Water Alliance program in Nevada County.
An additional thanks to the professional support provided by Darby Davenport and Cal McKitrick for documenting special events through the magic of their photographic eye. A very special person, Catherine Busch, who not only provided her gifted videography skills and art form but also critiqued Operation Unite® messaging through the eyes of a seasoned and very successful, award winning documentary producer. Thank you. Richard Miller provided his organization and people skills as an administrator during radio round tables and Operation Unite® recording sessions on location and in the studio. Your participation made its positive impression.
Thank you also to Steve Baker and Paul Emery at KVMR radio station, Tom Fitzimmons at KNCO radio station, Nevada County Television members and staff, Brian Hamilton of The Union newspaper, Gil Dominguez of Touchdown Productions, Pasquale of Yubanet and the Nevada County Association of Realtors for their strong and consistent commitment to the community and water issues impacting Nevada County.
Good things happen because good people ran with their passion and a common goal. Thank you to all.