Stakeholder involvement is a critical component of the Utah Lake Water Quality Study. Outreach efforts ensure a collaborative process with engaged stakeholders to guide scientific analyses and regulatory decision making.
The original stakeholder group assembled in 2015 consisted primarily of members of the Utah Lake Commission Technical Committee as well as representatives from the Utah Lake Commission, local municipalities, publicly-owned treatment works (POTWs), water users, and state and local agencies. Additional stakeholders were invited to represent agricultural and recreational interests along with local university researchers actively studying Utah Lake. Four water quality subgroups were formed from the larger stakeholder group to address the technical and scientific questions associated with each Phase 1 work element. These subgroups focused on data management and coordination of monitoring efforts and model development.
The Division of Water Quality (DWQ) and the Utah Lake Commission subsequently revised this approach to accommodate a rapidly growing stakeholder group and provide a formal process to incorporate stakeholder concerns more effectively. The resulting Utah Lake Water Quality Study Stakeholder Process offers a charter to accommodate current and evolving stakeholder involvement.
This new process established a Steering Committee and Science Panel charged with cultivating broad acceptance of the process and outcomes through a consensus-based, transparent, and scientifically defensible approach.
The Steering Committee represents stakeholders with an interest in the Utah Lake Water Quality Study. Members represent constituent issues and concerns and guide the development of scientifically defensible water-quality regulations and policies protective of Utah Lake’s designated beneficial uses.
Objectives for the Steering Committee:
- Create a partnership among stakeholders
- Conduct a transparent public process
- Develop goals and objectives for the study
- Establish, maintain, and direct a Science Panel
- Provide recommendations for water-quality criteria to the Water Quality Board
The Science Panel, by contrast, is a disciplinary-based panel with members having scientific expertise relevant to Utah Lake. Objectives and duties of the Science Panel:
- Develop a scientifically defensible approach for the study
- Identify gaps in scientific understanding and data
- Provide recommendations to the Steering Committee for scientific study
- Oversee Utah Lake research activities
- Implement a process for independent peer review
- Develop a process to characterize scientific uncertainty
The Science Panel membership is structured as a two-part panel with five independent voting members and five ex-officio non-voting members. The Steering Committee expects that members operate independently while providing opportunities for local scientists with Utah Lake expertise to participate in the process.
The Utah Lake Water Quality Study Stakeholder Process recommended that all Steering Committee and Science Panel meetings be conducted by an independent professional facilitator. DWQ contracted with RESOLVE, a professional facilitation team, in November 2017 to guide the stakeholder process. Facilitation activities:
- Develop a preliminary situation analysis to gauge stakeholder interest
- Identify areas of mutual gain
- Identify stakeholder expectations for the study
The team is also responsible for facilitating all Steering Committee and Science Panel meetings, including agenda development, meeting planning, and meeting action items to inform next steps.