Texas Tribune – Drinking Water Systems Draw Federal Concerns

Thanks, Neena, for the great reporting!

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid Newsroom

More than 310 public drinking water systems in Texas — nearly 4.5 percent of the state’s regulated public water systems — have quality issues that haven’t been adequately addressed, federal officials told the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality this year. That is the highest percentage in the nation, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

To read the entire article, click here.

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The ache of injustice

Observations from Emily Vandewalle, a graduate student who just completed her MS in Geography and now is off to the Philippines to work with a water NGO.

Environmental Justice - Texas

I peered deep into the 50 gallon plastic container at the few inches of water remaining at the bottom. Just moments before, the bucket was full- but after 20 minutes of using this water to pressure wash the inside of the 2500 gal water tank that provides water for the Ramirez* home, my plastic container was practically empty. I began to drag the container to the open field just behind the home to dump out the remaining water in attempt to begin the clean-up process after a day full of manual labor, frantic trips to the hardware store, sunburn, sore muscles, and homemade tamales. Just then, Mara*, the female head of the household, walked outside of her home and it dawned on me – maybe she wants to save this water. Upon asking, she hurriedly brought me a 5 gallon open bucket to pour the remaining water from my container into, to be saved for later use in the home- perhaps to fill…

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Texas Colonias: Red Tape or Politics as Barrier to Decent Housing?

Environmental Justice - Texas

Last summer The Texas Tribune published a two-part series on Texas colonias. The first article addresses the efforts and problems with securing habitable dwellings for residents (Red-Tape, Catch-22 Impede Progress). The second article (Conditions, Health Risks Sicken Colonias Residents) paints a striking picture of colonias residents and their life-world. I would only have added that when you enter Mexico Chiquito, the community cited in the article, you are welcomed by a severe sulfur smell that, for the first-time visitor, may cause your eyes to water…but that is another post.

As I finished reading the two articles, I am left unsatisfied. The article relied on the narrative that poor housing and substandard infrastructure are a result of individual actors, “unscrupulous developers,” usurious lenders, and other malcontents ready to prey on poor farm workers. Tone and word choice rendered residents as naturally poor, eliding their existence to the…

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‘If no gasoline, no water’: the rise of water vending machines in South Texas

Rather than drink tap water delivered through community water systems, thousands of families living in south Texas "colonias," low-income peri-urban and rural subdivisions on the US-Mexico border, rely on private water vending machines.  My recent study discovered that over 87% of the surveyed colonias households relied on 50% or more of drinking water from the water …

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Congratulations Audrey and Heather!

I am pleased to announce that Audrey Joslin, a recipient of the NSF DDRI award, also accepted the Texas A&M University Dissertation Year fellowship to complete her doctorate by August 2015! Heather Lee also heard that her project on the water soft path in Central Mexico is to be recommended for funding through the NSF DDRI …

Continue reading Congratulations Audrey and Heather!

“No-Win” Waterscapes

From GeoNews Most Americans take for granted the ability to turn on a faucet when thirsty or to fill a pot for cooking. But a Texas A&M researcher has found that segments of the population, especially along the Texas-Mexican border, exist in a “no-win waterscape,” with no easy access to clean water, no ability to …

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