Stakeholder Engagement in the Darby Cobbs Watershed
The goal of our work this summer was to conduct research to understand recent stakeholder engagement in the Darby Cobbs Watershed, outline main concerns in the watershed, and provide recommendations for future partnerships. We began our work with a literature review about the history of the Darby Cobbs Watershed in order to understand how the past has contributed to the current context. We then conducted research on the failed Darby Cobbs Watershed Partnership (DCWP) and watershed advocacy work of all relevant groups in the past two decades. We contacted dozens of stakeholders, holding virtual interviews with 27 and an after-interview survey with 14. Analyzing our results, we created a comprehensive report and organized a ”virtual roundtable” of over 15 stakeholders to have an open dialogue on some of our findings and potential next steps.
We found that the DCWP lacked resident involvement/ownership at its founding and trust between the city and suburbs. From our stakeholder interviews, we identified six major watershed concerns including dumping and littering, stormwater management, and lack of watershed awareness. We organized recommendations for future projects into a pathway for successful partnerships, starting with involving residents at initial stages of a partnership. One important limitation of our research was a lack of resident voices, particularly from Black West Philadelphians.
With our results and limitations in mind, we proposed the Water Center at Penn speak with interested residents (particularly two West Philadelphia neighborhood groups we identified) and create an email listserv to keep in contact with stakeholders we interviewed. We then recommended the center work with all interested partners to plan community meetings to receive resident feedback.