A central part of the stakeholder process is defining who should be at the table and why. Consider who is potentially affected by the SMP and who’s input is required to meet desired outcomes. Being thoughtful about who is at the table will help the process be efficient and the participants see value. There are many ways to structure a stakeholder group. The structure should be customized to the region and people involved.
Typical Stakeholder Group Structure
The group that serves as a steering committee to move the process forward. Leadership team members should come to the table with a broad understanding of water management and willingness to collaborate with their peers in other sectors. Participants with too narrow a focus or inflexible positions can hinder progress.
Defined as individuals or organizations that have a direct stake in the outcomes of a SMP through owning land or water rights, conducting environmental restoration or advocacy, operating small businesses that rely on the river (i.e., recreational interests such as fishing and boating) or have planning/project implementation authority in the relevant river reaches. Consider adding stakeholders that are a potentially affected interest but do not have significant power/capacity (e.g., small business, floodplain residents). An important role that key stakeholders play is to represent their “constituency”, by collecting input and relaying it to the leadership team. They also act as conduits back to their constituency to communicate the purpose and findings of the SMP.
Recognizing that stakeholders are not necessarily scientists or water use experts, many groups put together a trusted technical team to conduct data assessments, evaluate data, present scenarios and recommendations to the leadership team and stakeholders.
SECONDARY PLAYERS AND THE BROADER COMMUNITY/PUBLIC
It is helpful to reach out to the public at multiple points in time to gather information for community buy-in and input that might not have been considered by the key stakeholders. Targeting certain user groups (like the boating or angling community or ditch companies) will ensure input from important segments of the community that may be underrepresented or unable to engage in regular meetings.