Participation workshop at the Lake Constance water supply company

Methods for effective participation of interest groups and stakeholders

Involve stakeholders effectively

Bodensee-Wasserversorgung (BWV) supplies four million people in Baden-Württemberg with fresh drinking water. In order to be able to continue to fulfil this task in the future, the long-distance water supplier is planning various construction measures and modernisation steps in the project "Source of the future. Water for Generations". Together with our partner agency Carta, we support the Lake Constance Water Supply in communicating with the local people and in involving the stakeholder groups. Therefore, we worked out a strategy for the effective involvement of the various groups in a workshop. 

Requirements for successful participation

The aim is not only to inform the local people about upcoming measures, but also to involve them - where possible - in the project in a meaningful way and at an early stage. During the workshop, we looked at the preconditions that are necessary for this: 

  • Identification of all relevant stakeholders 

  • Classification of the groups in terms of interest/affectedness and degree of influence 

  • Identification of the right participation method and the adequate level of participation depth 

  • Development of a coherent participation strategy, expectation management, etc. 

  • Appropriate time management between the approval process, project development and participation input.

Agency services: Workshop conception, moderation and follow-up, Stakeholder analysis/assessment, Identification of appropriate participation methods, Participation roadmap/measure planning 

Always bear in mind the participation paradox: the further the project planning progresses, the better the communicators can explain the project, but the more the scope of the participation groups decreases. When stakeholders are involved as early as possible, detailed project information is often still lacking, which is why interest in getting involved is usually even lower at the beginning. Nevertheless, early public participation is recommended because it increases acceptance and understanding of the project. 

In the workshop, the participants worked out in groups how much participation they thought was possible in different project areas on a scale from 1 (very little) to 10 (very much). The results were illustrated using the "participation spider". 

In a next step, the workshop participants looked at different methods for stakeholder participation. The range of possibilities became apparent.

For infrastructure projects, for example, the following methods are suitable 

  • Neighbourhood walks or site visits  

  • Mental mapping 

  • Focus groups 

  • Exhibitions  

  • Site visits  

  • Planning for Real using 3D models  

  • Online-only participation tools such as planning apps

In the second part of the workshop, the participants arranged different fields of action of the project regarding their temporal urgency in a timeline priority matrix. Thereby, for example, a high priority of the topic of restrictions for water sports during the measurement work emerged. In the workshop, initial participation and information measures were therefore developed for the affected group of water sports enthusiasts.  

The participation workshop gave our client a systematic overview of the relevant stakeholders, their degree of influence on the project and methods for effective participation of the different interest groups. Building on these results, we can now design the further communication and participation strategy for the project "Source of the future" together with the Lake Constance Water Supply. 

Your contact persons

[Translate to English:] @orga19sb

Nina Rittler
+49 911 530 63-122

Participation workshops can identify relevant stakeholder groups

and determine the right level of participation for the different stakeholders."