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Water quality perceptions and natural resources Extraction: A matter of geography?

Levêque, Jonas G., Burns, Robert C.
Journal of environmental management 2019 v.234 pp. 379-386
geography, monitoring, natural gas, oil fields, oils, risk, surface water, surveys, water management, water quality, West Virginia
Recent events in the United States have shown the vulnerability of water quality in certain communities. Accordingly, we conducted a survey in a large community in north central West Virginia (US) to explore the factors that influence the perceptions of water quality. We sought to assess whether respondent's proximity to a mine, gas/oil well, or bodies of water would affect their perceived health risks and environmental concern. Additionally, we aimed at understanding how these perceptions were affected by the density of these sites and the presence of these sites within defined distances. As West Virginia is rapidly expanding its natural gas production, there is no research that has objectively associated water quality perceptions with geographic location in regard to oil and gas extraction sites. With small effect sizes, our results add some evidence to the link between unconventional oil and gas extraction, geographic location, and water quality perceptions. This study suggests the need for further water quality monitoring and increased public communication about water management practices in West Virginia.