As evidenced by recent catastrophic weather events, infrastructure resilience is one of the most critical issues facing the health and safety of a community. Recognizing this, the Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) developed Community Connection, a comprehensive and strategic outreach effort aimed at speaking directly with citizens about the infrastructure improvements needed for reducing risks and gathering customer input on balancing risk reduction with additional investment.
As part of Community Connection, the District produced a video featuring Executive Director Tony Parrott speaking directly to residents and business owners about the criticality of the timing of making these necessary investments. The video connected with the public through four primary pathways by:
- Communicating the serious nature of the risks posed by aging infrastructure;
- Describing MSD’s identified solutions to address the risks;
- Encouraging citizens in an engaging way to join the dialogue about the Critical Repair & Reinvestment Plan (CRRP); and
- Discussing the will of the city to work toward community-wide solutions including efforts to assist those that have limited resources to make the investment but are also among the most vulnerable.
The video provided a cost-effective and engaging medium that jump-started a dialogue with community groups about the systems that have supported them for many years, and the need to start rebuilding to enable a sustainable future. While it set the tone for the risk that Louisville faces, it also provided the hope embodied in solutions to move forward.
The community responded to this opportunity for constructive dialogue by actively engaging, sharing input, asking questions, and gathering information. Based on responses from an engaged community, MSD received the clear direction that the time is now to initiate solutions to address the risks associated with Ohio River flood protection, inland flooding, wastewater treatment, viaduct flooding, aging infrastructure, and Consent Decree completion for the entire community - including those who can least afford it. The messaging of the video resonated across geographic, political, and economic boundaries and was an integral component of successfully connecting with residents to achieve documented results. In 2018, the project was awarded with a NACWA National Environmental Achievement Award.