A new pilot initiative is tapping into solar-powered tech as a solution to the water crisis affecting hundreds of thousands of people living in colonias along the U.S. and Mexico border, Axios‘ Ayurella Horn-Muller reports.

Driving the news: SOURCE Global, a public benefit corporation, is partnering up with Texas politicians and nonprofits to provide clean drinking water access to colonias — unincorporated, low-income communities with limited resources.

The backstory: Colonias, which lack basic human services like traditional water infrastructure, are home to largely low-income, Latino residents.

  • The state’s increasingly unreliable water supply, which relies heavily on drought-stricken rivers and reservoirs, worsens existing barriers to access for those in colonias.
  • “Colonia residents bought their land because they saw the opportunity to be homeowners, but they were never properly informed of the lack of political will to bring municipal water service to colonias,” Laura Ponce, executive director of the El Paso County nonprofit Project Bravo, tells Axios in an email.
  • “Without a safe source for drinking water, low-income colonia families take health risks like drinking potable water delivered by trucks, storing water in unsealed large containers, and minimizing their water consumption,” says Ponce.

An initiative led by SOURCE Global is aiming to mitigate this by installing hydropanels that turn water vapor into drinking water in 500 households in the Hueco Tanks and Quemado colonias.

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