Save Our Waters, an online campaign was launched in 2014 by Blueprint for Water, a coalition of 16 environmental, water efficiency and fisheries organisations. The campaign aimed to encourage civil society to respond to the Environment Agency’s draft River Basin Management Plans’ (RBMP), to let them have a say before the final plans were released. It achieved this by using a bespoke website and questionnaire, enabling people with no technical knowledge to easily respond thereby making it accessible for all.
The Save Our Waters website laid out background detail about the RBMP and highlighted the problems facing our water bodies to encourage civil society to take an interest.
Engaging with civil society
Save Our Waters engaged with the public by using two different questionnaire options. The first one was a short questionnaire, for those with limited time and who did not have any technical knowledge on the RBMP. The second questionnaire was aimed at more knowledgeable audiences who had read the draft RBMP beforehand.
A number of methods were used to attract the public and to encourage them to fill out the questionnaire. Using Blueprint for water, the project had a large reach and many channels it could use to engage the general public. This included social media and the use of #SaveOurWaters, with twitter being the 4th most popular route to our website.
Blog posts were also an important tool with a total reach of over 500 people as well as articles and enews platforms, all linking back to the Save Our Waters website and questionnaires.
27 regional press articles were released in October 2014 with a combined readership of 440,000 people. 500 Save Our Waters postcards were handed out and 5 presentations were delivered to over 400 people.
In total, there were 11786 page views to the site and 900 responses to the questionnaire, which exceeded targets. Responses showed that 99% of respondents thought the health of their waters were important to them, 96% thought more should be done and 73% would like to be more involved in the decisions about their water body. All responses were sent to the Environmental Agency to show them the opinions of civil society. The Save Our Waters campaign was mentioned in the response summary of the RBMP with the Environmental Agency commenting that they “welcomed the opportunity to work with Blueprint for Water during the ‘Save Our Waters’ campaign”. They also added that they would like to explore further opportunities to work proactively in partnership with national and local organisations and continue to find ways to enable non-technical audiences to get involved. This provided a base for the second phase of the campaign which was to try and get people to contact their MP directly.