We explore the relationship between perceived and actual water quality in a rapidly growing, high-amenity rural area (Vilas County, WI) and how this relationship is affected by shoreline development. Although the data on the relationship between shore development and aquatic environs are not conclusive, people express high levels of concern about the environmental impacts of this type of growth. We link databases that include water quality and lakeshore development variables with a mail survey of 1000 local property owners. Although the shoreline development levels are unrelated to water quality variables such as turbidity, chlorophyll levels, and color, we find that lakes with higher levels of development are perceived by respondents as having worse water quality than lightly developed lakes. These findings have important implications for high-amenity rural communities that undergoing rapid development.