Identifying Key Issues in Water Quality Perceptions in Northern West Virginia

Track 4B: Improving Watershed Management
Friday, October 13, 2017, 10:00 am – 11:50 am

Jonas G. Leveque & Robert C. Burns
West Virginia University

Affected by the recent Elk River spill, West Virginia is one of the several states struck by a water crisis in the U.S. Even though it is increasingly important to understand water concerns, there is little knowledge about residents’ perceptions of water quality. This study proposes to synthesize the results of a recent (November 2015) research on water quality in Morgantown (WV). Tap water drinking behaviors, relationships between risk perceptions, satisfaction with the taste, odor and color of the water as well as environmental concern and demographics were examined. Data were collected using an online survey and a mail survey, resulting in 603 responses (response rate of 11.3%). Our results suggest that residents know very little about their water quality. Results reveal the need for education about reducing bottled water consumption and the need for more communication about residents’ water quality. This study highlights the need for scientists to share their knowledge with general public.