ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA. Many of IWR’s employees take advantage of opportunities to serve in other areas of our organization, enabling valuable exchanges of information and expertise while also building important relationships. Ms. Stacy Langsdale, P.E., Ph.D., undertook one such developmental assignment for four months in 2017 to the USACE’s Los Angeles District (SPL). Drawing from her experiences working at IWR’s Collaboration and Public Participation Center of Expertise (CPCX), as well as Headquarters Levee Safety Program’s Public Awareness and Communications Team (PACT), Dr. Langsdale was able to jump right in and provide valuable support to SPL.
The Los Angeles District is responsible for more than 120 levee systems. The District has O&M responsibility for approximately 20 percent of these, but the vast majority are operated and maintained by local cost-share sponsors. Langsdale’s primary task was to help the Dam and Levee Safety section design and conduct workshops to help Levee Sponsors prepare for communicating the risks associated with levees. This effort is part of USACE’s transformation to a risk-based organization to ensure life safety. SPL staff who attended an internal levee safety risk communication training the previous year found it valuable and decided local sponsors could benefit from similar training.
The workshop was offered three times in different locations, to all 20 levee sponsors (including SPL) to (1) increase awareness of the USACE Levee Safety Program’s new expectations of sponsors regarding risk communication; (2) provide some foundational skills training in risk communication; and (3) help sponsors begin the effort through providing examples and activities to start developing their own communication plans.
The immediate results were encouraging. Within only a couple weeks of the first workshop held last September, the Town Manager of Clifton, Arizona released a video with informative flood risk messaging. Another attendee at the November workshop in Orange County stated that the session affirmed his current approaches to flood risk outreach, and he left feeling motivated to build on his successes and add to the discussion on levees. The long-term impact will yet to be seen. Sponsors may take initiative on their own but possibly will need periodic encouragement or additional support from SPL to keep talking about levee risks as an on-going activity.
Additionally, Dr. Langsdale learned a great deal about the Formerly Utilized Defense Sites (FUDS) program, and is now an instructor for their program. She also made connections in the Regulatory program, and just delivered training on Difficult Conversations and the Strengths Deployment Inventory to 57 regulators last month with IWR’s Cynthia Wood.
Dr. Langsdale is grateful for the opportunity to support another part of the organization while gaining an appreciation for the challenges that Districts face in managing their programs while implementing directives from headquarters.
For more information, visit the websites for IWR, Collaboration and Public Participation Center of Expertise (CPCX), and USACE’s Levee Safety Program.
Video from Town Manager of Clifton, Arizona