Introduction: Land use changes in the Rivanna River and James River Watersheds have increased the number of impaired recreational waters, and there is a disparity in the equitable communication of these impairments to different populations. Ineffective communication contributes to inequities in access to safe, accessible, and affordable water for vulnerable populations, placing public health at risk.

Methods: This study uses secondary data from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Watershed Index Online (WSIO) Indicator Data Tables, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Rivanna River Association, and James River Association. Correlations, linear regression, and percent change were used to identify statistically significant trends between watershed health, biological water quality, water access, and communication estimates.

Results: Monitoring data collected over the past fifteen years indicate that biological water quality in the Rivanna and James River Watersheds have been negatively impacted by pollution due to land use changes with an increasing number of rivers failing to meet DEQ standards. Despite this, and an increasing interest in people seeking information on river conditions, recreational access on these impaired rivers has also increased.

Conclusion: This study shows examples of how existing laws and regulations concerning recreational water quality communication may not be accessible to all, potentially harming already vulnerable populations. Future studies should explore how effectively water impairment status is communicated, and what can be done to ensure all populations are reached to achieve health equity.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.