Mid-Coast joins PSU to study views on water

NEWPORT — The city of Newport and Portland State University have entered into an agreement to gather information about how coastal communities perceive issues related to the water in the area.

The partnership will help gather information from the mid-coastal communities about how they view water issues from a domestic use standpoint, an environmental standpoint and with comments from other local groups as well.

“It’s Oregon’s Kitchen Table, which is through Portland State University. The city received a grant of $185,000 from the Meyer Memorial Trust for the collective policy or collective process to determine what are the long term best practices for dealing with the watershed in Lincoln County,” said Spencer Nebel, Newport’s city manager. “This is part of the pilot project that’s being funded by the state as well.”

According to Nebel’s report presented at a Monday, May 21 meeting, $42,500 is dedicated to Oregon’s Kitchen Table to collaborate with the Mid-Coast Water Planning Partnership to gather feedback from the mid-coast communities regarding their beliefs, values and priorities around water in the region.

Additionally, the intended duration of the project will be two years running through December of 2019.

The council voted unanimously at the May 21 meeting to approve the new partnership.

Tim Gross, Newport’s public works director, said the project will also focus on members of the community who normally wouldn’t be consulted.

“The scope of work talks about what they are going to be doing,” Gross said, “(the project) will not take place until further in the fall when it gets drier, and people are more conscious of water, and it’s also reaching out to groups that we don’t normally reach out to.”

The scope of work also states that and it reads in part, “Partner organizations will focus on outreach to specific communities, including, but not limited to: the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, the local Latino population, youth, senior citizens, industry representatives…”

The scope of work goes on to state that in order to reach those communities which have “traditionally been under-represented” there will be a multi-faceted approach that will integrate online surveys, in-person events designed for culturally specific groups, among other outreach options as well.

“This organization works to help facilitate those discussions to find out what are the primary concerns of the folks that live here in Lincoln County and try to facilitate a plan that will address those long-term issues collectively and individually,” Nebel said.

Sarah Giles, a project manager with Oregon Kitchen Table, said they were invited by the city to help do outreach and engagement on placed-based water planning for the communities in town.

“Our program focuses on public input broadly, so we make many opportunities for all folks to be heard,” she said, adding that they also focus on getting info from groups that usually would not be heard from. “We come in to broaden the pool working with locally-based partners.”

She added that they are planning some outreach events over the summer and working to get some questions ready to be sent out in September.

Contact reporter Chris Ehrmann at 541-265-8571 ext. 217 or [email protected]


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