Cities of Carlsbad, Vista and San Marcos
Poseidon Water set out to build the largest, most technologically advanced and energy-efficient seawater desalination project in the nation. Southwest Strategies came onboard to launch a comprehensive outreach program for the project, reaching more than 25,000 stakeholders.
Project: The Carlsbad Desalination Project
Expertise: Public Outreach
Location: Cities of Carlsbad, Vista and San Marcos
“Southwest Strategies has provided superior outreach for the construction of the 10-mil pipeline for the Carlsbad Desalination Project. Throughout the project they have helped conduct a number of public meetings for which they have always been exceptionally prepared, implemented logistics perfectly and delivered a flawlessly executed event.”
Project Manager, Poseidon Water
After more than a decade of planning and three years of construction, the largest, most technologically advanced and energy-efficient seawater desalination project in the nation was completed in late 2015. Set against the backdrop of California’s severe drought, the creation of a new locally-controlled, drought-proof water supply was a significant milestone for San Diego County and the entire state. The project was made possible through a public-private partnership between developer Poseidon Water and the San Diego County Water Authority.
In December 2012, Poseidon Water was in search of an outreach specialist for the construction phase of its Carlsbad Desalination Plant and Conveyance Pipeline Project to conduct outreach to potentially impacted parties near the plant and along the 10-mile pipeline route, as well as to share key information with the public about this pioneering project in the San Diego region.
Poseidon Water hired SWS to a large scale traditional public relations campaign. To kick-off construction, SWS coordinated a ground-breaking ceremony/news conference and developed and distributed regular Enews updates and informational mailers to nearly 25,000 stakeholders and interested parties about the project’s commencement. A project website, which is updated regularly to include bilingual Project fact sheets, eblasts, construction maps, photos and links to the social media sites, was also launched. To provide project information with a personal touch while continuing to build the stakeholder database, SWS conducted regular door-to-door walks to both businesses and residences in the three cities in which the pipeline was constructed. Additionally, SWS coordinated several feature stories, including one that appeared as part of CNN’s “City of Tomorrow” series, and regularly coordinated media tours along the pipeline route and at the plant. For businesses within the Carlsbad Research Center, the largest business community in the area consisting of more than 300 companies, SWS prepared and distributed biweekly construction eblasts to ensure that businesses and their employees were aware of all construction activities in the area. Targeted mailers were also distributed to businesses within and around the construction area. Additionally, SWS coordinated several feature stories, including one that appeared as part of CNN’s “City of Tomorrow” series, and regularly coordinated media tours along the pipeline route and at the plant.
The pipeline was also constructed in several residential communities, sometimes as close as 15 feet from homes located on the route. As work approached these areas, SWS proactively held a series of public workshops, which allowed community members to receive information and ask questions of project team members. During one segment of the construction, an SWS team member served as an onsite construction liaison. This staff er worked actively with construction crews, the City of San Marcos, Poseidon Water, the Water Authority and residents on a day-to-day basis to ensure seamless communication and address potential challenges before they arose.
Construction on the desalination pipeline came to a close in June 2015 and outreach to the diverse communities along the pipeline route was a success. Since the beginning of the public outreach program, SWS successfully reached nearly 25,000 individuals. The project Facebook page reached nearly 2,000 fans, the Twitter account was followed by more than 600 and more than 150 stories were printed in local, regional and national news outlets highlighting the Project’s milestones and positive benefits to the San Diego region.
Nine months before the completion of the plant, Poseidon Water, the Water Authority and SWS began collaboratively planning the Dec. 14, 2015, dedication event. The team set objectives for the event, which included celebrating the completion of the project, highlighting the historic nature of the occasion and underscoring its national significance as the largest seawater desalination plant in the country. Based on these objectives, the team developed a distinctive theme and brand for the event – “Now Serving: Pacific on Tap” – which reaffirmed the magnitude and historic significance of the project, with a nod to San Diego’s thriving craft beer culture.
The Carlsbad Desalination Plant Dedication Event was considered by all involved to be an overwhelming success. Over the course of the day, more than 700 attendees were present on the secure grounds of the desalination plant, including 50 reporters, 75 dignitaries and elected officials, and 200 community and business leaders. The Carlsbad Desalination Plant officially opened in December 2015, and outreach was determined to be a success. Southwest Strategies continues to provide consulting services related to the Carlsbad Desalination Plant to Poseidon Water today.