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Rural Health Information Hub

Health Equity and Access in Rural Regions (HEARR)

  • Project Title: HEARR Water Quality Project
  • Program Representatives Interviewed: Kimalee Dickerson and Frank Dukes
  • Location: Rural Piedmont region in Virginia, including areas within Albemarle, Fluvanna, Buckingham, and Nelson Counties
  • Program Overview: The Health Equity and Access in Rural Regions (HEARR) initiative is a 501(c)(3) organization led by a Board with assistance from the Institute for Engagement & Negotiation (IEN) within the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia. HEARR projects build community capacity to advance environmental justice and health equity. HEARR was initiated when a coalition in rural Scottsville, Virginia approached IEN with an interest in advancing health equity in the region. IEN conducted a situation assessment that involved multiple meetings with community members, who identified water quality as a priority concern. HEARR then partnered with the Virginia Household Water Quality Program at Virginia Tech University to conduct a pilot program in the HEARR region of Virginia. The pilot provided water testing kits to sample levels of contaminants in private well water among rural households.

    The Water Quality Project involved a steering committee of rural community members who participated in recruiting participants for the pilot. HEARR also sought to introduce local students to careers and research through the Water Quality Project. They hired high school and community college students to recruit participants. Rural residents who participated in the pilot received information about potential contaminants in their well water and options for water treatment. Residents whose water had contaminants that raised concerns were offered free water quality filters.

Strategies represented by this program: