Community Perception of Water Quality in a Mining-Affected Area: A Case Study for the Certej Catchment in the Apuseni Mountains in Romania
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Mining-contaminated sites and the affected communities at risk are important issues on the agenda of both researchers and policy makers, particularly in the former communist block countries in Eastern Europe. Integrated analyses and expert based assessments concerning mining affected areas are important in providing solid policy guidelines for environmental and social risk management and mitigation. Based on a survey for 103 households conducted in a former mining site in the Certej Catchment of the Apuseni Mountains, western Romania, this study assesses local communities’ perceptions on the quality of water in their living area. Logistic regression was used to examine peoples’ perception on the quality of the main river water and of the drinking water based on several predictors relating to social and economic conditions. The results from the perception analysis were then compared with the measurements of heavy metal contamination of the main river and drinking water undertaken in the same study area. The findings indicate that perception and measurement results for the water quality in the Certej Catchment are convergent, suggesting an obvious risk that mining activities pose on the surface water. However, the perception on drinking water quality was little predicted by the regression model and does not seem to be so much related to mining as to other explanatory factors, such as special mineralogy of rock and soils or improper water treatment infrastructure, facts suggested by the measurements of the contaminants. Discussion about the implications of these joint findings for risk mitigation policies completes this article.