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J Environ Health. 2013 Jun;75(10):24-36.

Public infrastructure disparities and the microbiological and chemical safety of drinking and surface water supplies in a community bordering a landfill.

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Bloomberg School of Public Health Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


The historically African-American Rogers-Eubanks community straddles unincorporated boundaries of two municipalities in Orange County, North Carolina, and predates a regional landfill sited along its border in 1972. Community members from the Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association (RENA), concerned about deterioration of private wells and septic systems and a lack of public drinking water and sewer services, implemented a community-driven research partnership with university scientists and community-based organizations to investigate water and sewer infrastructure disparities and the safety of drinking and surface water supplies. RENA drafted memoranda of agreement with partners and trained community monitors to collect data (inventory households, map water and sewer infrastructure, administer household water and sewer infrastructure surveys, and collect drinking and surface water samples). Respondents to the surveys reported pervasive signs of well vulnerability (100%) and septic system failure (68%). Each 100-m increase in distance from the landfill was associated with a 600 most probable number/100 mL decrease in enterococci concentrations in surface water (95% confidence interval = -1106, -93). Pervasive private household water and sewer infrastructure failures and poor water quality were identified in this community bordering a regional landfill, providing evidence of a need for improved water and sanitation services.

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