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HOW TO DO PUBLIC EDUCATION & OUTREACH. NC STATE UNIVERSITY. =. “The Educator:” Recommends ideas for creating a Phase II program Works with DWQ on behalf of local governments Has voluntary programs. “The Enforcer:” Writes rules Issues permits

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  • “The Educator:”
  • Recommends ideas for creating a Phase II program
  • Works with DWQ on behalf of local governments
  • Has voluntary programs
  • “The Enforcer:”
  • Writes rules
  • Issues permits
  • Reviews Phase II programs for compliance with regs.

Measure 1: Public Education & Outreach

Permit Requirements

(a) Establish a public education and outreach program,

(b) Informational web site,

(c) Public education materials for schools, homeowners, and/or businesses, and

(d) Public education material dissemination.



1a. Establish a public education and outreach program.

  • “Develop a public education program and implement within 12 months of the permit issue date. Incorporate outreach elements for significant minority and disadvantaged communities.”
  • This means to decide:
  • Which issues you will cover.
  • The formats you will use.
  • The timing of the message.

1b.  Informational web site

“Develop and maintain internet website. Post newsletter articles on stormwater, information on water quality, stormwater projects and activities and ways to contact stormwater management program staff.”

We have made a sample website available that you can simply personalize and copy!


Stormwater home

Take the quiz!

Local water quality

Stormwater Pollution -

Where does it come from?

Reduce pollution

from your home

Reduce pollution

from your business

Local projects and

volunteer opportunities

Report a problem

or contact staff

Local stormwater-

related ordinances

Your town/city/

county seal or logo

Stormwater Information Web Site

Pollute your water, pollute yourself

  • The City/Town/County of XXXXXX is working to protect our local streams from being damaged by stormwater pollution. When it rains, pollutants such as fertilizer, oil, grease and pet waste are picked up from the ground and carried into the nearest storm drain down the street. The storm drainsare notconnected to a treatment system, so everything that flows down the drain goes directly to the nearest water body. You can make a difference and help us keep our local waters clean. As a visitor to this site you\'ve already taken the first step – getting informed. Step two – get involved by doing one or more of the following:
  • Adopt a couple of clean water habits toreduce pollution from your home.
  • Adopt a couple of clean water habits toreduce pollution from your business.
  • Get involved withlocal projects and volunteer opportunities.
  • Report stormwater problems.
  • While citizens, businesses and industry are working to prevent stormwater pollution, the City/Town/County of XXXXXX is busy doing the same. In 2005, we received a Phase II Stormwater permit that requires that we develop and implement a stormwater management program that includes the following measures:
  • Teach citizens and business owners about how they can prevent and reduce stormwater pollution.
  • Involve citizens in developing and implementing our local stormwater program.
  • Look for and remove unlawful discharges to the stormwater sewer system.
  • Regulate new development activities to ensure that they provide appropriate treatment for stormwater before it reaches local waterways.
  • Reduce and eliminate pollution resulting from our activities.

1c.  Public education materials for schools, homeowners, and/or businesses

“Develop general stormwater educational material targeting school children, homeowners and/or businesses.”

Make it easy on yourself by using the advice and examples on the website.


1d. Disseminate public education materials

“Distribute written materials through utility mailouts, at special events and at high traffic businesses.”

Partner with other local governments, agencies and nonprofits.

EPA and DWQ encourage this!


First Step: Select the Issues

  • Include two types of issues:
  • Awareness Issuesinform citizens that water quality is important and that storm drains are directly connected to creeks and streams.
  • Action Issuesrequest action from citizens on topics such as litter, pet waste and car-washing.

Check the website for advice, examples and fact sheets!

Awareness Issues

Pollute Your Water, Pollute Yourself


The Storm Drain is for Rain


Pollute Your Water, Pollute Yourself


#1 Show the connection between water quality and quality of life.

#2 Highlight the unique water resources of your jurisdiction –drinking water, beautiful streams, lakes or coastlines, fishing, boating or swimming.

#3 Teach that each citizen is responsible for protecting the water that we all enjoy.


Pollute Your Water, Pollute Yourself

  • Format Suggestions:
  • Hold events or set up displays at events.
  • Start program such as Adopt-A-Stream to raise interest in water quality.
  • Involve school children since they will bring the message home to their parents.

The Storm Drain is for Rain

  • Goals:
  • Teach citizens that the rainwater that runs off of their roofs, lawns, driveways, streets and business goes directly to streams, not to the wastewater treatment plant.
  • Explain to citizens that they must NEVER dump chemicals, yard waste or garbage into the storm drain inlet.

The Storm Drain is for Rain

  • Format Suggestions:
  • Show the link between the storm drain system and local streams by marking storm drains.
  • Use door hangers in areas that have been marked to get the message to the neighborhood.
  • Use the media to demonstrate the connection between storm drains and local streams.

Action Issues

  • Household Hazardous Waste
  • Pet Waste
  • Septic Systems
  • Lawn and Gardening
  • Vehicle Maintenance
  • Vehicle Washing
  • Erosion
  • Stream Buffers
  • Flooding
  • Litter

Don’t try to do them all!


How to Choose the Action Issues

  • Think about:
  • Is this issue relevant to my community?
  • Will this issue address a known water quality problem?
  • Is there an existing education program for this issue that we could tap into?
  • Will this issue receive a favorable response from citizens?

This chart is available on the website.

Public Education and Outreach Program Chart:

For planning your overall public education program.

Can be submitted to DWQ to meet permit requirements.


Check the website for examples and fact sheets!

Format Options

  • Public Involvement
  • Print
  • TV
  • Radio
  • Web Site
  • Outdoor
  • Brochures
  • Giveaways
  • Events

How the Public Gets Information on River Issues

Results of a survey by Lake Research, Inc. for the Upper Mississippi River Basin


The Public Education Equation

Reach x Frequency = Results

Reach = # of people hearing the message.

Frequency = # of times they hear it.

Results = Changes in behavior that benefit water quality.

Hitting the target audience just once won’t do the job.

That’s why you hear the same ads over and over!


Format: Public Involvement

Includes Adopt-A-Stream, storm drain marking, wetland plantings, clean-up projects, essay and poster contests

PROS: - It is required under Measure 2 – so you can “kill two birds”

- It is a relatively inexpensive public education measure.

- It has a big impact on those who participate.

- It can often be turned into a news-worthy story.

CONS: It can require a significant investment of staff time.


Format: Print

Includes newspaper, press releases, news stories.

PROS: - It is the second most popular source of information.

- It is effective, available and free.

- Surveys repeatedly show high public interest in water quality – it is considered “newsworthy.”

CONS: - You do not control the message, timing or frequency of the news story.

- Working with reporters takes time and patience.


Format: TV

Includes PSAs on network, cable and public access and news stories.

PROS: - It is the most popular source of information.

- TV news coverage is effective and free.

- Surveys repeatedly show high public interest in water quality – it is considered “newsworthy.”

CONS: - It can be difficult to get PSAs aired at times when citizens are likely to view them.

- Buying air time can be very expensive and competitive.

- Working with reporters takes time and patience.


Format: Radio

Includes PSAs and sponsorships, talk shows, public affairs shows and news stories.

PROS: - You reach a small segment of the public, but you may be able to target an audience that is highly interested in a specific topic.

- You can partner with Cooperative Extension, university, etc. to provide the detailed technical information you may need.

CONS: - It can be difficult to get PSAs aired at times when citizens are likely to hear them.

- Buying air time can be very expensive and competitive.


Format: Web Site

PROS: - It is required in your permit, so you have to do it anyway!

- You can reach a large audience at a low cost.

- You can offer up-to-date information.

- NC Cooperative Extension Service is putting together an example web site that you can copy, customize and use as your own.

CONS: - They have to be marketed if you want your citizens to visit them.


Format: Outdoor

Includes billboards, signs, sides of buses, bus shelters, exhibits.

PROS: - Can reach a large audience.

- Can be visually pleasing.

- Can reach audiences at appropriate locations, such as pet waste signs at the park.

CONS: - Can only convey a short message.

- Billboards can be very expensive and also have regulatory issues.


Format: Brochures

Includes brochures, direct mail and point-of purchase displays.

PROS: - Brochures can be more technical than other formats.

- Can tailor the message for different audiences.

- Good follow-up mechanism.

CONS: - The audience must have the interest to pick them up, read them and implement the message.

- Printing and mailing are costly.

- Passive, not participatory.


Format: Giveaways

Includes bumper stickers, videos, mugs, children’s stickers, pencils, pens, t-shirts, coloring books, etc.

PROS: - Increase awareness.

- Can be used to advertise a water quality hotline (required in Measure 3)

CONS: - Very short message.

- May not be very persuasive.

- Materials may be considered “junk.”


Format: Events

Includes festivals, demonstrations and trade shows.

PROS: - Can model positive behavior.

- Offers two-way communication.

CONS: - Can require a lot of staff time, BUT you can partner with NC Cooperative Extension, university, environmental groups, etc.

- Require publicity for success.

- Can damage reputation if not done well.


Timing is Everything!

Household Hazardous Waste Spring and Fall

Pet Waste Spring and Summer

Septic Systems Spring and Summer

Lawn and Gardening Spring and Fall

Vehicle Maintenance All year

Vehicle Washing Spring, Summer and Fall

Erosion Spring, Summer and Fall

Stream Buffers Summer and Fall

Flooding Spring, Summer and Fall

Litter All year


Public Ed Materials – Second Piece of Advice:

Combine a simple message with a dash of humor.


Successful Slogans

Scoop the poop – Austin, TX

The more you know, the better you’ll grow. - Greensboro, NC

Soap is for Dishes, Not for Fishes – San Diego, CA

“Don’t Soil Our Waters! – Maine DEP

Don’t Let Your Stream Go Bare! – NC DWQ