For the river to persist over the long-term the communities who depend on it must be invested in its health. To assess the extent to which local governments are engaging in conversations about water-related issues, we examined the number of times water-related topics appeared in regular meeting minutes of local governments.
How is it scored?
Similar to the digital engagement indicator, we used the occurrence of place names with conservation meaning to indicate engagement. However, in this case, we searched for these terms in meeting minutes collected from the websites of each municipal and county government in the watershed. We also attempted to include Native American Tribes and Nations, but were unable to find a publicly available copy of meeting minutes.
This indicator used all municipal and county meetings in the Verde River Watershed from 2018 to the time of analysis. Across these documents, we searched for the 29 water-related search terms. We then identified the three highest performing search terms for each government and calculated the mean mention rate across these three terms. After the top three search terms had been scored we compared mention rate of each government to one another using a statistical method called a z-score. After scoring each government, we aggregated group scores up to the region level by calculating a population-weighted mean.