Email correspondence from George Olive (Jan. 31, 2023) with following NID response (Feb. 7, 2023):
FROM: Jennifer Hanson
SENT: Feb. 7, 2023
TO: George Olive
SUBJECT: PFW Questions: "Demand Model Data Sources & Assumptions"
Thank you for your email regarding the PFW process. Responses to your questions are provided below. From your questions it sounds like you may not be aware that SYRCL staff participates in a smaller stakeholder group that allows for more in-depth discussion related to materials and upcoming topics. If you would like to also participate you are more than welcome to. The forum is a little more relaxed and provides an opportunity for more back and forth discussion. The next meeting is this coming Friday at 9 AM. I will send you the meeting invite.
Please let us know if you have any further comments.
Jennifer Hanson, General Manager Nevada Irrigation District
From: George Olive
Jan. 31, 2023
To: NID Directors, Ms. Hanson, & Consultants
I hope this email will steer some thinking about future PFW workshops, planning meetings and the use of supporting technical documents. Although I am an active member of the SYRCL/FWN Working Group, I am choosing to submit my own questions as a less technically savvy, fully engaged community member with long-term interest in NID decision-making.
Question: Does the correct set of people have input on the design of PFW public workshops? Is someone on your team looking/hearing through the eyes/ears of the public participant trying to keep up with information flow?
For context, The Jan 10 PFW meeting was intended to introduce demand model inputs, data sources, assumptions and key terminologies. The handout, "Demand Model Data Sources and Assumptions" appeared to be important supporting material for Consultant Katie's slide show.
RESPONSE: The Demand Model Data Sources and Assumptions matrix that you reference was provided to Ms. Gianna Setoudeh representing your organization (among many other interested parties) on December 15, 2022, in preparation for a premeeting that was held on December 21, 2022, to discuss the very same materials and provide an opportunity for input. The same materials were then once again issued as part of the agenda packet that was posted the week prior to the January 10, 2023, PFW meeting.
If you feel that additional discussion is needed on the Demand Model Data Sources and Assumption matrix, please feel free to provide input at the next stakeholder meeting that is scheduled for 2/10/2023. Or we can setup a one-on-one meeting for you if that works better.
Observation: The handout was introduced at about 45:10 of the meeting, referenced a half dozen times, and ref'd to as "the (large) matrix". Not THE "PFW Matrix". This other "matrix" handout is dense with terminology, some overlapping with the slides, some in glossaries, some new. Katie's slides jumped from "Category" and "Parameter" cells on p. 1 (Land Use, Urban Demand) to those on p.2 (Enviro Flows). Even after the audience learned about the handout, following the exchange was frustrating.
Response: Only a larger version of the Demand Model Data Sources and Assumptions matrix was handed out at the January 10, 2023, PFW meeting. This is the same handout that was provided via email to a representative from your organization on December 15, 2022, and that was included as part of the agenda packet for the January 10, 2023, PFW Meeting.
Question: If future PFW meetings will include high-density hand-outs w/ technical info designed to make presentations clearer, how can meeting outcomes and meeting steps be better planned with public understanding as a priority? How about a pause at the start to intro and orient?
Response: We recommend that participants review the materials provided prior to the meeting. With that said, the District has always been willing to add an additional meeting, hold pre-meetings to discuss materials, or have one on one meetings to review materials or answer questions. Please feel free to take advantage of one of these options.
Question: Are the Directors confident that the Jan 10 meeting left public (less technical) participants with increased understanding about "demand inputs and assumptions" at a level suitable to moving ahead with the PFW process? Do Directors and staff believe enough technical info was shared clearly enough to make Jan 10 a successful meeting?
Response: Yes. We provide interested stakeholders with the opportunity to participate in pre-meetings to review and discuss materials prior to the actual PFW meeting. Representatives from many stakeholder groups participate in these meetings. If you would like to participate, please let us know and we can add you to the invite list.
Question: Would NID consider extending the next PFW meeting or adding a two-hour workshop (perhaps led by Chip; not by Ms. Hanson) to allow for public exploration of the "Demand Model Data" and key terms?
Response: At this time, we have not received any specific input on the Demand Model Data that would require another meeting. If we do receive input that requires another meeting, we will be more than happy to schedule one.
I understand the complicated balance of information to be shared vs. time required for the PFW process to unfold positively for the public and efficiently for NID. As a community stakeholder, and a participant in regular pre- and post-PFW meetings, my interest in NID being transparent and responsible with its decision-making and modeling tools is high. Handing out dense or heavily technical information without any introduction to promote public connection can only damage positive public engagement.
Response: The statement that the materials was not provided in advance of the meetings is inaccurate. The material in question was provided as early as December 15, 2022.
Question: As above, what might NID staff come up with in order to step back and explain the most important parts of the document (the other matrix) being addressed here? What parts of Davids Eng. PPT would Katie select as most important for the public to understand? How do these important slides and the demand model data inputs support each other?
Response: The assumptions matrix was discussed at a pre-meeting on December 15, 2023, and then again at the PFW meeting held on January 10, 2023. There is no one slide that is considered more important to understand than another.
Observation: The current NID BOD and General Manager are gradually repairing a decades-old trust issue created by NID's lack of informative interaction with its customers and challengers. As one of the "Dam Watch Dogs" who believed the Parker/Centennial Dam/Reservoir Project was a terrible idea and lost trust in NID leadership during those years, I have concerns that the Jan 10 meeting represents a step backwards, a step toward unproductive separation between NID's need for efficiency and the public's need to understand inputs, assumptions, and terminology.
Question How is NID assessing, in terms of success with trust-building, public reaction to the outcomes of your PFW meetings?
Response: To date, the feedback received from participants has been favorable. Input is addressed as it is provided, and often this input has resulted in modifications or additions to the process. This will feedback process will continue.
Question: What options have NID Directors considered for strengthening facilitation of PFW meetings?
Response: If you have a specific recommendation, please provide one.
Observation: In the PFW Matrix, Stage 8, under "Engagement Techniques", #1 is "Hold focus groups as needed". I suggest strongly that a meeting to focus engaged members of the public more clearly on key terminology that has worked its way into the PFW process - and took a substantial leap in complexity on Jan 10 - would be of benefit to the perceived value of this process.
Question: What terminology is critical to Consultant - staff - Board - public understanding and participation in the PFW process? What tangible examples can be offered by NID to move us all forward? Dir Heck sought clarity on "NID historical data", a term used throughout the "Model Data Sources". How about an example of "historical NID data", say from a recent Crop Report, and what this data point suggests about "demand"? What examples of non-NID data sources - perhaps "spatial land use imagery"? - would be used to check NID's data?
Response: A glossary of terms was proposed at the beginning of the PFW process. We are more than happy to consider modifications. Please provide them if you have any recommendations.
Question - How about some explanation of "environmental flows" and "uses" and Dir Johansen's claims about farm contributions to environmental uses? What aspects of environmental water impacts demand modelling? Which don't?
Response: Environmental flows are considered those flows that are required by a state or federal regulatory mechanism. These types of flows are all accounted for in the modelling.
Question - The 8th Parameter "Soil Moisture Simulation" is challenging. Could NID dedicate some time to public understanding of "soil types and soil parameters, willing point, field capacity, pore size distribution"? Can examples be used from NID data?
Response: Yes, we will provide additional discussion regarding this topic.
Observation: I am asking for add'l staff and stakeholder time. I am asking for extra effort to build credibility for NID, its individual BOD members, for Ms. Hanson, and for the Consultants. I am asking for recognizable interest on NID's part to collaborate intentionally.
Response: The District has always been willing to add additional meetings as needed to the PFW, hold pre-meetings, one on one meetings and respond to verbal or written comments. We will continue to provide these opportunities.
Thank you for any response,
Comment from Jay Lund, Sept. 13, '22: But the real effectiveness of this kind of enterprise is when people trust you, and they only trust you if you talk with them. So we do have to have some way of making this kind of collaboratory have at least an ancillary function of engaging with people that don't know what they're talking about technically.
George Olive, NID Customer, Banner Mtn.