Assessment of Point of Use (POU) Systems for Reducing Health Risks Associated with Drinking Water along the U.S.-Mexico Colonias in the Paso Del Norte Region

Varinia Viridiana Felix Parra, University of Texas at El Paso

Abstract

In the Paso del Norte Region along the U.S. Mexico Border, there are more than 5,000 families living in impoverished communities known as colonias that lack access to basic infrastructure services such as a public water system. These depend on hauling trucks that deliver water into their storage tanks. Water storage practices by colonia residents on both sides of the border pose an enormous risk for waterborne disease outbreaks and heavy metal contamination because the water quality can decrease rapidly due to volatilization of the residual chlorine, intrusion of rainfall and air-laden dust. Since connection to centralized water treatment and distribution systems is uncertain, unfeasible or at best still many years away, colonias residents require a more immediate, sustainable, and effective solution for their current situation, such as the use of point of use (POU) systems. The purpose of this project is to provide a model for the evaluation and selection of POU systems for colonia residents that takes into account the public perceptions and concerns regarding water quality in their home, their treatment preferences, water quality data, and health risk assessment. We provided: 1) outreach and education campaign in the form of workshops, forums, and focus groups to colonia residents on both sides of the border on how to minimize pollution of their drinking water storage tanks; 2) POU filtration units to colonia residents; and 3) an evaluation of the risks associated with the drinking water used by colonia residents. Our research demonstrated that the use of POU that are adapted to the needs and preferences of the residents provide a drastic reduction in the presence of microbial contamination. A quantitative microbial risk assessment was conducted to determine the health risks faced by colonia residents in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico and far east El Paso before and after the use of POU systems.

Subject Area

Environmental engineering|Civil engineering

Recommended Citation

Felix Parra, Varinia Viridiana, "Assessment of Point of Use (POU) Systems for Reducing Health Risks Associated with Drinking Water along the U.S.-Mexico Colonias in the Paso Del Norte Region" (2019). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI22617276.
https://digitalcommons.utep.edu/dissertations/AAI22617276

Share

COinS