The Equity Center, U.Va.

The Equity Center

A UVA Democracy Initiative center for the redress of inequity through community-engaged scholarship

Health Equity Access for Rural Regions - Rural Water Justice Project

The HEARR Water Quality Project (HEARR Project) is a collaboration between Health Equity and Access in Rural Regions (HEARR) and the Virginia Household Water Quality Program at Virginia Tech, and was designed to examine the quality of drinking water in the Piedmont Area of Virginia. The HEARR Project conducted a pilot study during the summer of 2019, which included collecting, analyzing, and reporting data for 143 households in Albemarle, Fluvanna, Buckingham, and Nelson counties, with an emphasis on the Esmont and Scottsville communities in Albemarle(collectively, the “Focus Area”). As is common in rural areas throughout the Commonwealth, many residents in the Focus Area rely on private well water as their primary source of drinking water. The pilot study revealed samples of private well water that contained significantly higher levels of various contaminants, including lead and E. coli, than comparable samples of public (municipal) water supplies. Even though public water supplies are the only water supplies subject to regulation – private wells remain unregulated, both at the federal and state level – it is important to note that no samples taken during the pilot study contained levels of contaminants that were out of compliance with any regulations. Nevertheless, the disparities in water quality between households served by private wells and those served by the public (municipal) system in Scottsville are notable. Please read the full the report led by Cale Jaffe, UVA Genteral Faculty Associate Professor of Law and Elizabeth Buttitta (LAW '20) and Danielle Gibbons, (LAW '21) here.