Clean Water Services is the water resources management utility for more than 500,000 residents in urban Washington County, Oregon as well as for small portions of Multnomah and Clackamas counties. Its mission includes protecting water resources in the Tualatin River Watershed through the implementation of innovative wastewater and stormwater services, flood management projects, water quality and stream enhancement projects, fish habitat protection strategies, and more. A solid understanding of the values and expectations the public has for the health of the Tualatin River and its streams is key to the agency’s ongoing success. This information helps Clean Water Services assess its efficacy in reaching the public’s expectations and is crucial in shaping the agency’s planning and communication efforts.
For more than a decade, DHM has assisted CWS with the administration of strategic research projects to identify and understand the public values underlying perceptions and priorities as they relate to:
- The health of the Tualatin River and its streams
- Strategies to improve stream health, including customers’ willingness to pay for stream improvements.
The research has consisted of both quantitative and qualitative components including random sample telephone surveys, focus groups with customers, in-depth interviews, and facilitated group discussions with key stakeholder groups. Telephone surveys are conducted using a research design that assures statistically reliable subgroup analysis of the attitudes of streamside property owners. In-depth interviews and facilitated discussions have been held with members of groups such as the Westside Economic Alliance, the Tualatin Riverkeepers, and the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland.
From the beginning, this research has enabled Clean Water Services to better anticipate the concerns of its customers and stakeholders, assess proposed rate changes, and to more effectively communicate the benefits and costs of the agency’s efforts to protect fish, promote water quality, and advance locally driven solutions in the Tualatin Basin. The information has resulted in improved customer relations and increase voter support for Clean Water Services’ mission.