Approaches to Clean Water Communication

Effective communication is key to engaging stakeholders and the public. Engagement is also one of the six goals of the 2013 CWA 303(d) Program Vision. This compilation of approaches to water quality communication with the public and other less-technical audiences is intended to help facilitate the sharing of ideas among water quality programs, especially CWA 303(d) programs. It also aims to help generate new ideas about how to present water quality and program information. It is not intended to be exhaustive. The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) gathered these examples primarily through a questionnaire distributed in the fall of 2019 and completed by staff from 44 states, 9 tribes, 4 territories, and the District of Columbia. ELI organized, and in some cases summarized, the examples into the 12 categories below. To convey examples most effectively and highlight various approaches to communication, different formats are used for different categories. Some links connect to external websites. ELI also developed from the questionnaire responses a collection of effective ways that the states, tribes, and territories have explained complex water quality terms to less-technical audiences, available here.

If you would like to contact a jurisdiction to learn more about a communications effort included here, email Adam Schempp at or refer to the National CWA 303(d) Training Workshop participant lists available here.

If you would like to add material to the compendium, including being authorized to edit the wiki for websites, maps, and videos, email Adam Schempp.

This compendium is a product of Cooperative Agreement X7- 83592101-0 between the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) and the U.S. EPA. ELI developed and compiled the compendium with support from a workgroup of representatives from states, tribes, and state associations. Inclusion of material in the compendium does not mean that it represents official EPA policy or is endorsed by the EPA. ELI alone is responsible for errors and inaccuracies.