Use of community-owned and -managed research to assess the vulnerability of water and sewer services in marginalized and underserved environmental justice communities

Christopher David Heaney, Sacoby Wilson, Omega Wilson, John Cooper, Natasha Bumpass, Marilyn Snipes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In the study described in this article, the authors' objective was to use community-owned and -managed research (COMR) to assess the safety and adequacy of water and sewer services in three low-income African-American communities in Mebane, North Carolina. Community monitor (CM) training workshops, household surveys, and drinking water and surface water tests of fecal pollution were completed at private (target) and regulated public (referent) service households. CMs collected survey data showing a mixture of failing private wells and septic systems and regulated public drinking water and sewer infrastructure. Drinking water and surface water fecal pollution levels exceeded limits protecting health at target and referent households. COMR methods built community capacity to investigate private and regulated public drinking water and sewer service failures. Drinking and surface water fecal contamination levels suggest a need for provision of improved water and sewer services to protect health in these underserved and marginalized communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-17
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Environmental Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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