Communications Camp 2023

Communications Camp

2023 PNCWA Fall Communications Camp

Engaging Your Community in Your Agency’s Water Story

Location: City of Bend’s Kerri Training Facility, 22395 McGrath Rd.


The 2023 Fall Communications Camp is happening 8:00 am to 4:45 pm on Thursday, October 26 in Bend, Oregon. Register here!

The Camp will include a tour of the City of Bend’s Water Reclamation Facility and presentations by staff from the cities of Bend, Boise, and many others. The highlight of the Camp will be a presentation on the art of storytelling by the High Desert Museum’s Donald M. Kerr Curator of Natural History, Hayley Brazier, Ph.D.

Cost of the event is $190 for members and $205 for non-members. This event will provide 0.6 CEUs, pending approval.

The Communications Camp is a one-day specialty conference focused on how to communicate about water, strengthen communications skills, and effectively tools of the trade. Proceeds from the Communications Camp go towards PNCWA’s Adopt-a-School grant program, managed by the Communications and Outreach Committee, which funds K-12 educational projects focused on water and the environment.



8:00-8:30 – Check-in/Registration

8:30-8:45 – Welcome, Introductions

8:45-9:15 – How Well Do You Know Water

Loralyn Spiro, City of Springfield & Metropolitan Wastewater Management Commission; PNCWA Communications & Outreach Committee Chair

This interactive game will test attendees on their knowledge on the world of water and provide everyone with an opportunity to get to know each other.

9:15-10:15 – Septic to Sewer

Jason Suhr, Alex Doza, and Teresa Findley, City of Bend

The City of Bend enacted a city-wide septic to sewer conversion program for the 2,800 households, at the start of the program, that were still reliant on septic systems for wastewater disposal. The final solution, crafted through a citizen advisory committee, community outreach and policymaker workshops, found a way to balance the needs of septic system homeowners and sewer ratepayers. This presentation shares lessons learned from the decision-making process, a brief overview on program administration, and an update on program metrics to date.

10:15-10:30 – Morning break

10:30-11:30 – Rebranding: A case study of Boise’s WaterShed Education Center

Colin Hickman and Cindy Busche, City of Boise Public Works

The WaterShed Education Center is transforming into the nation’s first climate and water science center to help the city meet its goal of being carbon neutral by 2050. For nearly three years, The WaterShed has worked with consultants and the community to create a new vision, brand, and embark on the development of new programs and exhibits. Hear about the process of reimagining climate and water comms, from articulating the vision, engaging the community, and developing a compelling story through voices.  Plus get a preview of the new education center that will debut Summer 2024.

11:30-12:15 – The Art of Storytelling

Haley Brazier, High Desert Museum

Attendees will gain insights and strategies on how to create and tell a compelling story that effectively engages community members to want to learn more and interact with your water agency. The Museum’s overarching story will be shared along with examples of successful campaigns that have supported the continuation of it, growth and engagement achieved in doing so, and lessons learned along the way that you can take and apply to build and grow your water story.

12:15-1:00 – Catered Lunch

1:00-2:30 – Tour of City of Bend’s Water Reclamation Facility & in Real-Time Design & Feedback on Utility Communications

Chris Miccolis, City of Bend

The content for the general public tour for the City of Bend Water Reclamation Facility (WRF) will be presented to the tour group. Verbal explanations, graphics, and physical samples will be used to describe the process used at the treatment plant to communicate how each process treats wastewater. The intent of the tour is for the WRF staff to share the communication aids they have developed for giving public tours. Opportunities for the communication experts taking the tour to share suggestions and provide feedback to WRF staff about improvements to the tour will be discussed throughout the tour.

2:30-2:45 – Afternoon break

2:45-3:45 – Crooked River Wetlands Complex

City of Prineville

The City of Prineville’s successful Crooked River Wetland Complex is now complete and providing remarkable social, economic and environmental benefits to the community. Through this 120-acre, multipurpose project, the City is responsibly expanding its wastewater capacity, lowering residential and business System Development Charges, stabilizing monthly wastewater rates, created a new public hiking trail system with numerous educational opportunities and improving riparian and instream conditions in the Crooked River.

3:45-4:30 – Why Color Theory Matters to Your Water Agency’s Story and Community Engagement

Loralyn Spiro, City of Springfield and the Metropolitan Wastewater Management Commission

Color theory is an art and design principle that encompasses the ideas, principles, and applications of color, and includes three elements – the color wheel, color harmony, and color application or context. While all three are important, color harmony is the most important to be considered by communicators for its complexity due to our responses to color are both emotional and intellectual. Water Agencies and communicators need to keep this in mind when branding or rebranding their agency. Learn how color can help tell your agency’s mission, vision, values and overall story to community member and how it can strengthen your engagement with them.

4:30-4:45 – Feedback & Wrap-up