Make Your Water Quality Report Work for You

Recently, there has been an uptick in media interest in drinking water contaminants, thanks in part to the release of the Tap Water Database, by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). According to its website, the EWG obtained water testing data for the period of 2010 to 2015 from all 50 States.

The information in the Database can be confusing because EWG made its assessments based on non-enforceable health guidelines published by health and environmental agencies, including the State of California; EWG’s own research; as well as Federal legal limits. When residents and journalists search the EWG Database, they may find that the local drinking water systems exceed contaminant limits listed by the EWG.

The good news is, your water system is likely already equipped with the information the media and your customers are seeking, thanks to the Safe Drinking Water Act requirement to provide an annual Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) to the public.

The CCR, frequently known as the annual Water Quality Report, summarizes the results of the previous year’s drinking water quality analyses, communicates information about a water supply system, and conveys health impacts of drinking water. Assuming your water system already made paper copies of the CCR available and/or posted a direct link to the entire report on the utility’s website as required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it’s a good idea to remind customers that the information is always available.

Check out the infographic created by AE2S Communications’ Taylor Corbett to view seven suggestions for proactively promoting your utility’s water quality, using your CCR.

Let’s Celebrate Drinking Water, Infrastructure, and Public Works!

May is the month that public works and water utilities receive some much deserved recognition for the services they provide.  Of course AE2S and AE2S Communications really get into celebrating Drinking Water Week, Infrastructure Week, and Public Works Week because they provide great opportunities to spotlight the important work cities and utilities do year round.

This year, Drinking Water Week falls on May 7-13, Infrastructure Week is May 15-19, and Public Works Week will be observed the week of May 21-27.  We know everyone is busy serving their customers, but here are a few simple things you can do on your social media sites to celebrate the utility services you provide.

Drinking Water Week:

  • Announce Drinking Water Week and post a photo of the local water treatment plant.
  • Invite the community or schools to an open house at the water treatment plant and provide tours to show the treatment process. Serve ice water with snacks so attendees can sample the water being produced at the facility. Remember to post photos of the event and thank people for attending!
  • Post an illustration that shows the water treatment process at your facility.
  • Post the average number of gallons of H2O used by your water customers each day, month, or year.
  • Share water conservation tips to help customers reduce their water bills.
  • Post a photo from inside water treatment plant with the number of gallons the plant is capable of producing daily.
  • Post a group photo of the water treatment plant staff, thanking them for their hard work.

Infrastructure Week: 

  • Announce Infrastructure Week and thank residents for supporting infrastructure projects.
  • Thank the legislature for financial support of important infrastructure projects that benefit your community’s drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure, or projects that will benefit roads, bridges, and airports.
  • Post a photo of an infrastructure project that is under construction with an explanation of how it will benefit residents.
  • Post photos of completed infrastructure projects in your community with fun facts such as “Did you know ___ number of vehicles travel over the bridge or on this stretch of road each day?”

Public Works Week:

  • Announce Public Works Week and list all of the services Public Works provide to residents.
  • Invite community to any events being held in honor of Public Works Week and post photos from the event. Some cities host an open house with refreshments, tours of facilities, and put their large equipment on display for people to see up close.
  • Post a photo of a garbage or recycling truck picking up trash with a fact about how much trash the solid waste crews pick up weekly, monthly, or annually.
  • Post a photo of street crews at work with a fact about the number miles of roads in the city.
  • Post a photo from inside water treatment plant with a fact about the city’s average daily water use or the plant’s daily capacity.
  • Post a photo from inside the wastewater plant with a fact about how much waste the plant handles daily, monthly, or annually.
  • Post a group photo of Public Works staff, thanking them for their hard work.

Additional Resources

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) has lots of public outreach materials on its website, from draft news releases to official Water Week logos. Use the official hashtag #DrinkingWaterWeek17 or create one specific to your city or water utility for all of your social media posts during Drinking Water Week.

Several organizations come together to promote Infrastructure Week, which has its own website, including graphics that can be shared on social media. Use the hashtag #TimeToBuild to link your social media posts to other Infrastructure Week posts online.

The American Public Works Association (APWA) website has a toolkit that includes suggestions for activities to celebrate Public Works Week.  Use the hashtag #NPWW in your posts to denote National Public Works Week or make up an original hashtag for your City or utility.

If you would like help creating personalized graphics for your city or utility, AE2S Communications is here to help.  I hope you have a great month of celebrating Public Works and Drinking Water!

New Year’s Resolutions for Better Communication with Your Audience

Happy New Year! It’s a great feeling to have a fresh start with the opportunity to set new goals for the coming year. Many of us make New Year’s resolutions about our health, finances, or habits. What are your goals for 2017? What about making a resolution to improve the way your utility or city communicates with the public? In order to prevent getting overwhelmed, I suggest picking one or two of the five resolutions below. Select something that is realistic and attainable, and then build on your successes. Continue reading “New Year’s Resolutions for Better Communication with Your Audience”

7 Ways to Communicate the Safety of Your Water Supply

Thanks to the Flint, Michigan water crisis, water utility managers across the country have been fielding questions from concerned customers and local media outlets about the safety of drinking water. Don’t fret! Your community water system should already be equipped with the information customers are seeking, thanks to the Safe Drinking Water Act requirement to provide an annual Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) to the public.
Continue reading “7 Ways to Communicate the Safety of Your Water Supply”

Combatting Viral Online Misinformation

(click to see the associated infographic)
So, you’ve taken the plunge and your public entity now has a social media presence.  Everything is going great – you’re getting lots of followers on Twitter or “likes” on Facebook. Then something bad happens.  Maybe the City experiences a water emergency, a street flooding event occurs after a big storm, or the municipal pool has to be closed temporarily because of an accident.
Continue reading “Combatting Viral Online Misinformation”