Estuarine Quality Use and Public Perception

by Niels West, Univ of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '87


Coastal environmental quality is determined on the basis of a relatively small number of biochemical and physical parameters which may bear little relation to the intended use of the water. This paper reports on the perceptions of five Narragansett Bay usergroups (boaters, beachgoers, residents, tourists and shellfishermen) pertaining to both the dry shore and nearshore of Narragansett Bay. While the users were in general agreement about the ends of the 'environmental continuum,' considerable variation exists in the weights accorded and the specific environmental parameters cited by the five usergroups. None of the environmental factors mentioned included those which traditionally have been used to measure the quality of the dry shore and nearshore. The paper concludes with a call for the inclusion of parameters important to the users in the determination of water classes and standards above and beyond the conventional biochemical and physical parameters collected at present.

Subject Headings: Estuaries | Public opinions | Chemistry | Bays | Nearshore | Water-based recreation | Water quality | Water resources

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