A Clinton School student has partnered with the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission to help lay the foundation for an inclusive and participatory water planning process.
Acadia Roher (’12) of Little Rock worked with the state agency to create a stakeholder database and GIS map for use in creating the new Arkansas Water Plan. The goal of the project was to build infrastructure for a strong, collaborative stakeholder engagement strategy.
Though Arkansas is generally a water-rich state, several issues related to the quantity and quality of the state’s water resources have triggered an update to the plan for the first time in over 20 years.
The Arkansas Water Plan is essential to the future health, economic stability and sustainability of Arkansas, Roher said. This policy undertaking will have far-reaching implications for the future of water access and protection, but must have an effective and inclusive stakeholder engagement strategy in order to achieve the best outcome, she said.
Roher identified categories to drive a database system that could sort stakeholders by sector, interest or geographic area. The resulting database was initiated with the contact information and categorizations of over 2,000 contacts.
The evolving database, which will be used for communications purposes, was then utilized to map stakeholders to analyze where voices of particular sectors or geographic regions were missing or over-represented. Simultaneously, Roher engaged in several public outreach activities to inform citizens about the state water plan process and gather feedback.
“I was lucky to get involved early on in the process,” Roher said. “There was a lot of groundwork to be done, so I was able to serve the state in a tangible way that also allowed me to gain valuable skills in stakeholder analysis from start to finish.”
Roher’s database and mapping will be incorporated and maintained throughout the three-year water planning process.