To comply with state recommendations and provide maximum protection for agency staff and the public, the OWRB officially closed public access to the office building on March 16. Agency staff rallied to identify innovative ways to deliver the same level of service to customers and the public using strategies that would keep everyone at a safe distance. The OWRB’s website was quickly updated with the latest information, including a new “Contact Us” automated form that allows the public to specify a topic or issue and send a targeted message to the appropriate staff member. The form has been heavily utilized as a quick and efficient way to communicate. The form’s tracking features have allowed staff to customize topics and information available on the website to help answer the most frequently asked questions and get customers the information necessary to conduct business as usual.
The urgency to increase the agency’s online and digital offerings has provided the OWRB with opportunities to improve services. There has been a significant increase in information sharing about resources and assistance through the state’s GovDelivery services. New opportunities have been created for “face-to-face” customer service via video calls and meetings. With more flexibility in scheduling meetings and increased participation in meetings due to live streaming video capabilities, the OWRB has been able to reach out to more individuals about important water issues, and at the same time, save money on meeting space and travel. The OWRB is now able to identify potential future savings for the agency by continuing many of these meeting protocols beyond the current closures.