“The saying goes ‘there is strength in numbers’ and for us, this has meant engaging the right strategic partners to understand, promote and build a way forward for complex and deeply-rooted community issues.”

-Stacy Miller, President & CEO

Case Study: United Water Conservation District

Water is a precious and limited resource, and assuring that Ventura County’s municipalities, industries, agriculture and three Naval bases have the water they need now and in the future is at the heart of United Water Conservation District’s mission. So, when a Federal agency levied serious limitations on how much water United Water could divert for groundwater and aquifer replenishment, United Water sought the assistance of SMPA Inc.

The SMPA team took the time to understand the complex issues that involved all levels of government including local, state and federal, as well as environmental concerns. SMPA utilized its “listening tour” model to better understand both internal and external perceptions about the Agency. We met with a wide range of individuals representing water agencies, local government, environmental organizations, District employees and elected officials to better understand insights and issues.

The listening tour led to development of a “message platform,” which was used to inform all communications about the District. United Water staff worked with the SMPA team to educate the community about the dire impacts to the region’s water reliability if the District could not divert adequate stormwater for aquifer/groundwater replenishment. SMPA employed strategic communications and coalition-building tactics including speaking engagements, a new e-News, professionally-created one-sheets and info-graphs to tell the District’s story. Most importantly, SMPA facilitated relationship-building at all levels to assist the District to move the issue out of obscurity and into the forefront.


SMPA, Inc. gathered more than 80 letters of support from a wide range of stakeholders including business, agriculture, government and community organizations. For the first time, the federal agency in charge is responding to United Water and the District is on track to obtain a long, sought after permit which would allow them to divert more water for the benefit of Ventura County’s water supply.