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Public Involvement, Outreach, and Risk Communication

Communicating with customers and the general public about the risks associated with elevated levels of radionuclides in drinking water supplies can be a challenging prospect. Public perception of risk is often driven more by values and long-held beliefs than by technology.

 

 

In order to develop and implement effective communication with customers and other stakeholders (those impacted by the situation and actions of the system), it is crucial to gather the data required to understand the interests and concerns of those involved. It is important to remember that costs of capital improvement projects such as those required to address radionuclides are passed on to consumers. Many of these communities must vote to take on debt. By engaging customers and other stakeholders in a dialogue about the issues, a system can:

 

  • Build and maintain a mutually trusting and respectful relationship among stakeholders
  • Collaborate with stakeholders to identify the complexities of the issues facing the community as a whole
  • Form partnerships within the community to find solutions that meet the needs of the system, the community, and the regulators
  • Increase public support for the effort

 

System operators may very well be asking:

  • Where do I start?
  • Who should I be talking to?
  • When should I be talking to them?
  • What should I be telling my customers?
  • How do I involve customers in finding solutions?