Ohio River Basin Alliance
Steering Committee Strategic Planning Conference Call Minutes
July 13, 2012
Steering Committee Members: Carolyn Hefner, Chair, WV Conservation Agency
Fred Nyhuis, Marathon
Jerry Schulte, ORSANCO
Chuck Somerville, Marshall University
Mike Steinmaus, AEEP
Working Group Leaders: John Stark, TNC
Harry Stone, Battelle
Support Staff: Ryan Fisher, USACE Pittsburgh District
Mark Kessinger, USACE Huntington District
Update on Pittsburgh Fall Conference
Ryan provided an update on the Pittsburgh Conference agenda as well as the hotel. Another
group cancelled so we now have better meeting rooms at the hotel. Action 1: Carolyn will sign
a revised contract listing the new rooms. Costs remain the same. Since we were unable to
meet face-to-face today, Carolyn requested and the Committee agreed Action 2: to meet
Monday afternoon, September 24th, to go over final arrangements for the conference.
Who are we and what are we about?
Fred said he believes it is very important that we figure out who we are and what we are about.
He stated we need a 5 second “elevator speech” to share with others what ORBA is about.
Action 3: Ryan and Mark will draft up a short narrative for the Steering Committee to
review. Action 4: Mark will also prepare a list of what we have accomplished and put it on
What the Steering Committee Members Think
Carolyn said ORBA gives us the opportunity to voice our opinions regarding water resources
and regulatory issues in the Ohio River Basin
John stated ORBA is the platform to bring together diverse stakeholders to work together to
solve problems. For example, conservation agencies can work together with industry to provide
information and solutions to the Congressional Caucus.
Mike explained that AEEP started in 2001 as the Eastern Coal Region Roundtable and it got its
501(c)3 in 2004. He said AEEP has had many of the same problems over the years that ORBA
is experiencing. He added that a lot of the problems for AEEP and ORBA are similar so perhaps
both groups could meld together and AEEP could serve as ORBA’s 501(c) 3.
Chuck said between the Corps, ORSANCO, industry, regulations and others there are lots of
things going on in the basin. He serves as a liaison to his staff and his students for the latest
information in the basin. He said ORBCRE does a lot of the same things as ORBA but they are
primarily insular and speak more to themselves whereas ORBA is more of a “front door of
information on what is happening in the Basin”.
Mark noted that good things are happening because of ORBA. For example, ORBA has been
invited to speak during the “Shared Leadership” Session at the upcoming America’s Great
Waterways Initiative (AGWI) Conference in St. Louis. AGWI is actually looking at ORBA as
an example of the right way to share leadership to face our issues. He said we also are being
considered as the best agency to facilitate the strategic plan on how to control carp in the lower
part of the basin and keep them out of the upper part of the basin. And, we have our first funded
project dealing with climate change in the basin.
Jerry stated it usually takes about 5 years for new organizations and initiatives to get started. He
said we need to figure out who we are. At ORSANCO, he explained there are Commissioners
who think ORSANCO should participate with ORBA, and some who think we should not be
involved. He said ORSANCO covers the main stem of the Ohio River, is a clearinghouse of
information, and handles regulatory issues dealing with water quality. But ORBA can reach
further out in the basin. He emphasized we need to determine what size of issue do we want to
deal with – a broad basin-wide issue, or something in a smaller watershed, or something in an
even smaller sub-watershed.
Harry said in the beginning of ORBA in 2009, the USEPA (Sally Guterez) and industry were
more involved and this was more important to Battelle. He stated the Corps and the navigation
industry seem to be of strategic importance, so others may perceive they don’t have a reason to
How Do We Get Others Involved?
Carolyn said one of the major problems has been at each of the different locations of our
conferences we have had new people attending each time so there is no consistency. She added
we haven’t been able to get the chemical industry involved; we did have Columbia Gas but they
gave their presentation and haven’t been to another meeting since. How do we get these folks
Harry added that with the exception of the Corps’ folks, he gets a new group of people in his
working group every conference.
Jerry noted that our agendas have been very good but they are educational. We leave the
conferences asking ourselves, “What are we going to do now? What are we going to do with this
information?” Perhaps we need to set the agendas up differently so we are working the issues.
John stated we need to focus on a couple of major issues, show some accomplishments, and we
will show the value of ORBA to others.
Harry added that apparently cooling water is a big, high cost issue for AEP and the power
industry so can something be done from a regulatory standpoint to allow the creation of
wetlands? How can ORBA help lower costs but preserve our environment?
Chuck said that identifying one or two issues was attractive from his point of view. He thinks if
we can identify an issue, then perhaps we can get funding to bring the academic community to
engage fully in ORBA. He noted that ORBCRE has the same problem as far as bring funds to
Harry added that he sees ORBCRE as critical for finding solutions but ORBA hasn’t been
effective in identifying the needs.
Jerry stated we need to come up with one or two issues and work them through with academia
and industry and then take them to the Congressional Caucus for action.
Chuck said we need to identify our major issues, find out who is most involved in those issues
then target those particular stakeholders and bring them into the discussion.
Action 5: Carolyn will ask the Working Groups to come up with 1-2 main issues. Action 6:
Mark will use the website or emails to get the issues broadcasted to our members.
John stated the Restoration & Protection Work Group has narrowed down their 3 main issues.
Getting consensus from ORBA on those 3 issues is a priority. He said if he can get a blessing
from ORBA, then TNC can go forward to the Congressional Caucus on those issues.
Carolyn then asked the members about reaching out to each member state and asking them to
pull together a stakeholder group in each state to work on an issue that is critical to it.
Committee members wanted more time to think about the idea and Action 7: Carolyn agreed
to prepare a template or plan to lay out how we would go about it. She also encouraged
others to bring ideas on how to get the states more involved.
To Be or Not to Be a 501(c)3
Carolyn explained that we had previously discussed the pros and cons of becoming a non-profit
organization. She said a benefit is that we could lobby Congress on our issues but a detriment is
that many of our Federal and State members would be limited in their participation.
Harry said he is a strong advocate for becoming a 501(c)3.
Fred said the Committee members need a business card with a phrase like “Save the Bay” on it.
We have a logo, but he said we need a slogan.
Action 8: The Steering Committee members agreed to try to come up with a slogan and if
they cannot arrive at something then we will open it up to the entire membership via the
We sent out the member survey asking questions on how we can improve the Alliance and
received 8 responses prior to this conference call. The survey questions and responses are given
1. If you were leading the Alliance, what three things would you have us initiate or change to
provide the greatest value to you or your organization?
2. What, if anything, causes you to not participate more actively in the Alliance? How could that
3. How do you believe we can engage a greater number of industry representation?
4. Do you believe the present format that has been followed for the conferences is affective? If
the answer is no, explain how it could be improved.
5. Aside from the conferences, please describe for us any other activities of the Alliance that you
or your organization finds to be of value. How can they be improved?
Action 9: The Committee asked Mark to put a heading for funding opportunities on the
website as well as spotlighting funding successes on the front page. They also suggested
adding success stories on the website and preparing a list of success stories as a handout in
the Pittsburgh packet.
Meeting Wrap Up
In closing, Carolyn said she has been chair for 2 years and asked who would be willing to be our
next chairman? Jerry suggested it would be helpful to put something in writing on the roles and
criteria for being the Chair. Action 10: Carolyn agreed to write out some bullets on what the
Chair’s roles and responsibilities are.
Mark D. Kessinger, PMP