Recreational users' perceptions of coastal water quality in Rhode Island (USA): Implications for policy development and management

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Date of Original Version



Stakeholders' understanding of water quality influences how they approach water policy problems and their support for potential solutions. This study explores how resource policy in the United States accounts for different water quality meanings held by recreational users. In-person surveys were conducted along the shoreline in Rhode Island (USA) to examine how recreational users make sense of coastal water quality. Findings indicate that recreational users' understanding of water quality is constructed from an array of environmental conditions (e.g., chl a, phosphates) and attitudinal factors (e.g., perceived problems associated with sewage, algae, or trash), and the meanings ascribed to water quality extend beyond the biophysical indicators typically employed by water resource managers. Potential management strategies based on these findings include expanding current definitions of water quality and monitoring a broader suite of factors, conducting research that captures nuanced meanings of water quality held by different users, and developing outreach programs that clarify the potential impacts of water quality components on human health and well-being.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Marine Pollution Bulletin