Legionella species are ubiquitous bacteria in aquatic environments. To examine the effect of anthropogenic impacts and physicochemical characteristics on the Legionellaceae population, we collected water from two sites in the Itanhaém River system in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. One sample was collected from an upstream pristine region, the other from a downstream estuarine region moderately affected by untreated domestic sewage. Cultures on a selective medium failed to isolate Legionella species. Culture-independent methods showed that water from the estuarine aquatic habitat contained DNA sequences homologous to the 16S ribosomal DNA gene of Legionella pneumophila and non-pneumophila species. In pristine water, only two sequences related to L. pneumophila were detected. The results suggest that salinity and anthropogenic factors, such as wastewater discharge, favor a diversity of Legionella species, whereas pristine freshwater selects for Legionella pneumophila.