Application of the water poverty index in border colonias of West Texas

Marcelo Korc, University of Texas at El Paso

Abstract

This study applied the Water Poverty Index (WPI) in border colonias and other rural areas of west Texas. The colonias are mostly unincorporated communities located primarily in New Mexico and Texas along the border with Mexico and are characterized by high poverty rates and substandard living conditions. In Texas, access to drinking water and sanitation services has been identified as one of the most significant determinants of health in over 350 colonias with about 50 thousand residents. ^ The WPI is a multidimensional measure that links household welfare with water availability. WPI components were identified and prioritized by a wide range of state stakeholders. For this study, the index encompassed four key components: resources (the physical availability of surface- and groundwater), access (the ease of access to water for human use), capacity (the people's ability to purchase and manage water), and environment (the environmental impact of water management). The values of the WPI and its underlying components were calculated for colonia Revolución in El Paso County and three areas of Fort Hancock in Hudspeth County, Texas. ^ This study demonstrated that the WPI can be an effective tool in integrating physical, social, economical, and environmental information and for determining priorities associated with the water situation in colonias. It identified colonia Villa Alegre in Fort Hancock as the neediest community and showed water poverty differences between colonias with the same basic service infrastructure. ^ These results highlight the need to classify the water necessities of colonias using a comprehensive but simple assessment tool that integrates several factors and is not based solely on infrastructure. They provide information that can be used to advance more equitable and sustainable rural drinking water and sanitation policies and programs, and help reduce health disparities associated with water-borne diseases along the Texas border with Mexico.^

Subject Area

Environmental Health|Health Sciences, Public Health|Water Resource Management

Recommended Citation

Korc, Marcelo, "Application of the water poverty index in border colonias of West Texas" (2011). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1503733.
http://digitalcommons.utep.edu/dissertations/AAI1503733

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