Water has always been a big part of my life. During my childhood in Texas, I spent my time fishing on lakes and eating seafood. I overheard rain forecasts but didn’t realize their importance in filling our lakes, protecting our ecosystems, and driving our agricultural economy. Growing up, basic drinking water access was a privilege, and it is a basic human right that over 785 million people do not have even to this day, especially within marginalized communities.
During my undergraduate studies, I had the opportunity to research water conservation. The importance of using less now to ensure enough for the future was my foray into the water world. I interned with the San Antonio Water System’s Water Conservation Department and helped homeowners access incentive programs to reduce their water use. After I graduated, I worked for the Natural Resources Institute and researched water use and landscape irrigation management to improve outdoor water conservation in urban cities. By that time, I knew I wanted to pursue a graduate degree in water management.
At Texas A&M, I transitioned from thinking about water quantity to thinking about water quality and joined the Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) as an extension assistant. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 50% of rivers and streams, 70% of lakes, reservoirs and ponds, and 80% of bays and estuaries are impaired due to pathogens, sediment, and nutrients. At TWRI, each watershed protection plan begins and ends with community input. One of our projects was a septic system repair-and-replacement program for low-income households in a rural watershed. The mission of the program was to provide financial and technical support to improve community well-being while also promoting a healthy watershed.
As a graduate student, I explored water justice, desalination, and binational cooperation in the Colorado River Basin. I looked at how national water affordability guidelines excluded low-income households and their ability to pay for water, effectively prohibiting their capacity to benefit from such policies. On an international scale, I examined how binational water management can overlook stakeholders that are directly impacted by international water treaties.
Recently, I was the program coordinator for the Household Water Insecurity Security Experiences (HWISE) – Research Coordination Network (RCN). The international network researches water insecurity at the household scale and finds relationships between water access and issues such as maternal health, food insecurity, water stress, water affordability, and WASH. Although communities have a basic right to a fair and just water system, many households still lack access to affordable, clean, and reliable water.
At Blue Access LLC, I aim to use my privilege and experiences to find long-term solutions to our most pressing water issues. I look forward to working alongside communities to help build a future where no community faces water insecurity because of capital scarcity.
Image: Fishing on Lake Tawakoni