CWS is a different kind of service and our approach is significantly different too.
The approach used by CWS is very different from typical ‘outside expert’ intervention. You will get a sense of this by reading our process description on the page How We Will Work Together.
Our approach is different because your community connects with water in every aspect of how you live, thrive, develop and plan for your future.
Water is not just about pumps and pipes. Water is the stuff of life. When there is no more water, or if it becomes polluted, the community folds both spiritually and literally.
The path to such a community dead-end is often filled with a lot of unfortunate decisions by those in authority, but also by each and every community member in terms of how to plan for, and make use of, this most precious and costly resource.
So when we work with communities, we look at the big picture.
We know the solution will include technological components, but it will also include the need to change behaviors and possibly a few habits with regard to water usage. These changes cannot be imposed by anyone, really. They need to be become self-evident through conversations and by being exposed to alternatives.
Implementing water infrastructure is contentious because it involves spending money for a resource that until recently was freely abundant. Many communities are beset by levels of indebtedness that the children’s children of today’s residents will still be paying off. This breeds resentment, because it is an imposition. Usually such communities were not consulted. They were sold a bill of goods, told there is just one alternative, and that was the very expensive one.
That’s why our process is based on large scale community education, participation and support and we do such things as:
- Facilitate and engage public participation in every phase of the process, using an Appreciative Inquiry model, the online e-Deliberation™ platform, and online polls and feedback mechanisms
- Use the EPA funded “Small Community Decision Making Tools”, which enables communities to collaboratively explore options for sustainable urban water system improvements
- Identify infrastructure strategies which reduce the water-energy footprint, lower costs, and minimize environmental impacts
- Explain the concept of community investment strategies, community cooperatives and ‘responsible management entities’ as a means to cut costs
- Assist in identifying and obtaining future construction and management funding
- Leverage the lessons learned and experiences of participating communities to help others facing similar issues. This includes listserv-based social networking; published case histories and testimonies; direct collaborations; a knowledge base of technological alternatives, methods, templates and “what ifs”.
How we operate is also very different from traditional intervenors.
- We will guide and facilitate the full project life cycle but your decisions are for you to take. We will not sell you a bill of goods and tell you you have no other options. We will explore the options with you.
- While an Engineer will be required for the final design phase, they will then begin from a full set of community directed specifications. The community calls the shots.
- CWS will be available 24/7 by fully utilizing web based virtual meeting and conferencing. If communities don’t possess Internet access, either in gathering places or as individuals, we will provide it through our MobileBeacon license. This means everyone has the option to get involved and be part of the solution.
- The online collaboration and deliberation platform promotes equal participation by all at every step of the process. We build skills and capacity at the same time. This means no single person can impose a private agenda on the community.
- We will collaborate with, rather than compete with, local resources. To ensure long-term sustainability, plus maintainability, of the implemented solution, those who plan it will over see building and running the eventual system.
CWS aims for, and delivers, triple bottom line outcomes that sustainable track to economic, social and environmental imperatives.