Recent Progress: Increase
In 2022, the Local Leadership Workgroup distributed a baseline survey to local leaders providing insight into local officials’ knowledge and capacity. The results of the survey formed the foundation for establishing two indicators for the Local Leadership Outcome: knowledge of federal water resources regulations and reported conservation actions.
Baseline survey results for the knowledge indicator show that local officials representing smaller communities were most likely to respond that they were “uncertain” whether their community is subjected to specified federal regulations, an average of 52% of responses, compared to 32-35% for larger community sizes. Length of time in current office correlated negatively with “uncertain” responses, with those in office for less than 2 years answering “uncertain” for an average of 55% of responses, while that average percentage was 43% for those in office 3-10 years and dropped to 27% for 11 or more years. These differences are statistically significant.
For the second indicator, reported actions, the survey established a baseline against which to measure the impact of workgroup efforts. In the baseline survey, 50% of local officials reported adopting local rules, ordinances or regulations; 47% reported implementing/enforcing local rules, ordinances or regulations; 54% reported on-the-ground projects to directly improve water quality or water resources; and 64% reported applying for grants or other funding to assist with projects.
The survey results for both the knowledge and reported actions metrics provide valuable insight into local officials’ knowledge and capacity, but they have limited statistical value because budget constraints led to the use of a convenience sample rather than a randomized sample.
Outlook: On Course
The amount of engagement with local officials and planners suggests that efforts made by the Chesapeake Bay Partnership have been successful at increasing local officials’ knowledge and capacity on issues related to water resources. In the past two years, the workgroup developed 31 forms of training and education, which engaged 10,000+ local officials through peer-to-peer learning exchanges, newsletters, roundtable discussions, magazine articles, blogs and conference panels. More than 900 local planners attended webinars and conference sessions, and engaging planners activated a network of people who can support local officials’ learning.
With the new indicators and baseline survey data established, future surveys will be able to track progress and demonstrate more concretely the impact of the workgroup’s efforts.
The baseline survey results for officials’ knowledge of federal regulations around water resources are divided into three categories of community size. Local government leaders representing smaller communities (9,999 or fewer residents) responded that they were “uncertain” whether their community is subjected to specified federal regulations for an average of 52% of responses. For communities of 10,000-99,999 residents, officials expressed uncertainty for an average of 35% of the responses, while 32% was the average for officials representing 100,000 or more residents.
The survey data around knowledge of regulations also illuminated a negative correlation between length of time in current office and “uncertain” responses. Those in office for less than 2 years answered “uncertain” for an average of 55% of responses, while those in office for 3-5 years and 6-10 years both at 43%. The average percentage of uncertain responses dropped even further for those in office for 11+ years, at 27%.
The second indicator looks at the activities that local government leaders reported taking part in over the past three years. The survey data establishes a baseline from which to assess the ability of Local Leadership Workgroup engagement efforts to encourage action. In the baseline survey, 50% of local officials reported adopting local rules, ordinances or regulations; 47% reported implementing/enforcing local rules, ordinances or regulations; 54% reported on-the-ground projects to directly improve water quality or water resources; and 64% reported applying for grants or other funding to assist with projects.
Developing the survey and related indicators has helped to identify needs and plan work over the next two years and beyond. The Local Leadership Workgroup hopes to respond to the trends in the survey results by focusing educational efforts on officials who are new to their offices and those in smaller communities. For new officials, educational programming will be incorporated into existing onboarding training programs. The workgroup also hopes to build on the baseline of reported actions regarding regulations, implementation and grants to encourage increased numbers of actions in the future. Other goals include engaging more local government leaders by expanding networks and deepening partnerships through trusted sources.
To achieve this outcome, Chesapeake Bay Program partners have committed to:
- Measuring progress toward increasing the knowledge and capacity of local officials.
- Engaging local officials in opportunities for capacity building via trusted sources.
- Improving and enhancing local official engagement based on effectiveness.
Monitoring and assessing progress toward the outcome will occur through a survey of local leaders.
As part of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s partnership-wide implementation of adaptive management, progress toward this outcome was reviewed and discussed by the Management Board in February of 2023. It will be reviewed and discussed by the Management Board again in February 2025.
Logic & Action Plan
Chesapeake Bay Program partners have committed to taking a series of specific actions that will support the management approaches listed above.
- Monitoring local officials’ knowledge and capacity, including via surveys, pre- and/or post-training program evaluation forms and other means.
- Tracking current training and capacity building opportunities.
- Building relationships with local government trusted sources in each jurisdiction.
- Scaling up and diversifying regionally-tailored training and capacity building opportunities by developing proposals for forums, conference panels, webinars, etc. on relevant topics.
- Conducting peer-to-peer learning exchange tours for local officials and exploring new opportunities for peer-to-peer knowledge transfer.
- Assisting relevant goal implementation teams and workgroups with translating key content to their local government audiences and with engagement through trusted sources.
- Working with Green Fin Studio and the Bay Program Web Team to create additional educational modules for A Local Government Guide to the Chesapeake Bay and a website to house these materials, as well as host a train-the-trainer workshop.
- Organizing themed Local Leadership Workgroup meetings to identify key content on priority topics, distributing resources via the Watershed Currents newsletter.
- Piloting a partnership with local government planners via a booth at planners’ conferences and sessions at a state-level planners’ conference in order to increase capacity around water resources issues.
- Directly engaged 1,300+ local officials through peer-to-peer learning exchanges, roundtable discussions, conference panel sessions, etc.
- Indirectly engaged 9,500+ local officials through newsletters, magazine articles, blogs, etc.
- Conducted peer-to-peer tours in four of the watershed jurisdictions (Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware) and planned tours for two additional watershed jurisdictions (West Virginia and New York) in 2023.
- Held webinars and conference sessions attended by 900+ planners, with 200+ watching webinar recordings.
- Established partnerships with 12+ trusted sources, including Maryland Association of Counties (MACo), Maryland Municipal League (MML), Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS), Pennsylvania Municipal League (PML), Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs (PSAB), County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP), Virginia Association of Counties (VACo), Virginia Municipal League (VML), Delaware League of Local Governments (DLLG), Upper Susquehanna Coalition (USC), Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG), and the Eastern Panhandle Regional Planning and Development Council (Region 9).
The Enhancing Partnering, Leadership and Management Goal Implementation Team leads the effort to achieve this outcome. It works in partnership with the Fostering Stewardship Goal Implementation Team.
Participating partners include:
- University of Delaware (The State of Delaware)
- Frederick County (The State of Maryland)
- University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center (The State of Maryland)
- University of Maryland Harry Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology (The State of Maryland)
- University of Maryland National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education (The State of Maryland)
- Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania)
- The Commonwealth of Virginia
- The State of West Virginia
- The Chesapeake Bay Commission
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- The Local Government Advisory Committee
- Chesapeake Stormwater Network
- Maryland Association of Counties
- Maryland Municipal League
- Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments
- National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
- Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors
- Pennsylvania Municipal League
- Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs
- County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania
- Rappahannock-Rapidan (Virginia) Regional Commission
- Virginia Association of Counties
- Delaware League of Local Governments
- Upper Susquehanna Coalition
- Eastern Panhandle Regional Planning and Development Council
- Virginia Municipal League
- York County (Pennsylvania) Planning Commission