Water is an essential part of our daily lives. The average human body is made up of 50-65% water. Without it, we would die. Therefore, it is extremely important to make sure we get our proper water intake to help the body function properly.
Outside of drinking water, it is almost impossible for us to wash dishes, walls, floors, wash our hair and bodies, brush our teeth, wash our clothes, or flush our commodes without it. However, in the state of Texas, prior to Hurricane Harvey, there were approximately 500,000 people living without a water supply to their homes.
On the outskirts of Texas near El Paso and other border cities, there are groupings of homes which make up colonias. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, the land in these areas were purchased at highly discounted rates with the promise of an infrastructure being built in the near future. There are odd looking makeshift homes built on the land because there was no code enforcement of building structure. Many of the mobile homes have additional rooms made of wooden planks nailed to them.
But someone may be reading this and saying, that’s what I would expect of the border cities. It makes sense for people to settle as close to where they land on American soil. We tend to think of it as being a Southern Texas problem. However, in the town of Wilmer, which is part of Dallas County, and is only located approximately 10 minutes from the heart of Dallas, Texas, there are about 30 homes near I-45 and Mars which lack running water.
Angela Dawson and her family are fairly new to the area of Wilmer, and have only lived there since February of this year. Although many of the families in the area have been living without running water for 20-30 years, with the help of Mrs. Dawson, they are now ready to band together to make some changes to the infrastructure.
Mrs. Dawson tells us, “We have asked the cities of Wilmer and the neighboring city of Ferris to supply our area with water, but they told us they are not able to do so.” When the City of Wilmer was asked to comment on why they are not able to supply water to the area, they put us in touch with city worker Trey McGraw who told us, “It costs about $300,000-400,000 to run water to those houses you are speaking of, and city cannot afford to cover that cost without partnering with a developer. We have to be able to recoup the investment we make to the area. There are some developers thinking of investing in the area now, but nothing has materialized as of yet.”
Last week Thursday, September 14, Mrs. Dawson, held a meeting in her warehouse and invited residents to come and meet with a TCEQ (Texas Commission Environmental Quality) representative to discuss the basics of forming a non-profit corporation which will be responsible for every aspect of supplying water to residents in need. The very first step in this process is to file the articles of incorporation with the city of Wilmer, and appoint the Board Members and officers.
One of the attendees at the meeting, Mr. Ricardo Mendez said, “I travel to Ferris everyday to buy water and haul it back to Wilmer. I then give the water to the cow and horses to drink. We also use it for bathing, shampooing of hair and cleaning, but not for drinking. I buy the drinking water at Family Dollar.” On average, he is spending about $5 to $10 a day, but he also has to figure in the cost of gas, although it is not a long trip from Wilmer to Ferris.
Another meeting attendee, senior citizen, Mr. Arthur Allen told us, “I’ve been living without running water for about 20 years. I don’t worry about it too much, because it’s just me now. But I have a big tank of water I fill up once a week. I have to be careful with it though, because if I hold it in the tank too long, the algae starts to grow in it.”
As of now, the group does not know how long it will take to find a Texas certified contractor willing to take on the project or how much it will cost, but once they incorporate, they will be able to apply for grants. There is a chance, the contractor will give them up to 20 years to pay them back for their services.
Next weekend, the group will be meeting to appoint officers.
By: Arielle Johnson