Now it’s time to develop, evaluate, and prioritize potential actions which, when implemented, can result in outcomes that make progress toward the stated objectives. These activities collectively create the basis for an implementation plan.
Steps for successfully executing plan outcomes:
Identify Potential Actions
Evaluate and Prioritize Actions
Develop an Implementation Plan
Identify Potential Actions
Ideas for actions may be drawn from stakeholders, the local Basin Roundtable Implementation Plan, local studies, or engineering evaluations. Variations or alternatives associated with each action item might be important to consider as well. Examples include physical modifications of stream channels and floodplains, water leasing, water conveyance system efficiency upgrades, water application system efficiency upgrades, municipal water supply conservation programs, water diversion infrastructure modification, and reservoir development or re-operation.
Consider that potential actions may take years or even generations to implement. It will be important to document actions whether they are prioritized or not. The Crystal River Management Plan (Section 5) considered a wide array of market-based programs, efficiency measures, water supply projects, and channel modifications for achieving the project objectives. To consider the trade-offs of various management alternatives, they used a facilitated stakeholder process to explore the political will, capital and ongoing maintenance costs, administrative and legal constraints, community expectations for water use, and the potential for leveraging existing projects or plans. This allowed them to focus recommended actions on a smaller set of alternatives that were palatable to the leadership team.
Political and Public Support
How well does the project address stakeholder/ community values? Does the action have support from elected officials and is there political will to accomplish it?
Is the action allowed under existing water law and land use regulations?
Are there funding sources available for the total capital cost and ongoing maintenance/operations costs?
Property Ownership and Accessibility
If the action is on private land, how willing are the landowners? If on public land, what is the process for and likelihood of gaining approval?
Does the community have the leadership, staff resources, capabilities, and underlying structures to administer and maintain the action?
Are there ready partners for funding and collaboration that can be leveraged to expand the benefits of the action?
How effective at meeting project objectives is the action?
Will implementing the action have unintended consequences that should be considered? How does improving one aspect of the stream impact other community needs? For example, irrigation efficiency improvements may impact plant communities that rely on them, or bank stability measures may move erosion and deposition processes up or downstream.
Does the action advance other long-term community plans and goals?
Practical Approaches to Prioritization:
- Position consultants to suggest solutions and receive feedback from the stakeholder group while enabling stakeholders to inform priorities and make decisions. Understand that the stakeholder group may not have the technical capacity to create solutions on their own.
- Use small groups to develop lists of potential actions and prioritize them first, then advance the conversation to the larger stakeholder group for discussion, prioritization and adoption.
- Consider prioritizing actions by focusing in on a few pilot projects or reaches, or by readiness for implementation (e.g., short, medium or long-term timeframe).
- Have the stakeholder who would potentially be the lead fill out a worksheet addressing these criteria. Once all the worksheets are compiled, the full stakeholder group can review/rank the actions, resulting in a priority list. One SMP using this approach only included an action in their plan if the worksheet was completed, which indicated that the lead entity was serious about making that action happen. This exercise helps stakeholders consider whether they are willing to take the action on, if the action is realistic, and how the action fits into their priorities and work plans, all while cultivating leadership and buy-in.