Conservation Organizations Should Invest in Similar Community-Level Water Projects
SANDBRANCH, Texas — A new project to install hydropanels in a Texas community would bring it clean and safe drinking water — pulled directly from the atmosphere. The National Wildlife Federation, which is sponsoring two homes in the community and working to raise additional funds, urged other environmental organizations to make similar investments to help frontline communities struggling to access clean drinking water through wells, waterlines, and other traditional delivery methods.
The Sandbranch project is led by The Chisholm Legacy Project and The Until Justice Corporation, in partnership with the maker of the hydropanels, SOURCE.
“This community deserves better and what I see happening in this community should not happen anywhere in the United States,” said Tonette Byrd in an interview at a recent community event. Byrd is a community member who leads The Until Justice project and has led the efforts to bring hydropanel technology to Sandbranch.
“It is shameful that hundreds of years after its founding by emancipated men and women, this community does not have reliable access to clean and safe water,” said Dr. Adrienne Hollis, vice president of environmental justice, public health, and community revitalization at the National Wildlife Federation. “We are thrilled to be working with the community to ensure that this innovative technology can begin to help address these historic environmental injustices and provide renewable, reliable, and affordable water for community residents. Other environmental groups, federal, and state partners should invest in this and other similar efforts to address water insecurity in frontline communities in Texas and across the country.”
Hydropanels are an innovative technology that uses the sun to capture water from the air, without relying on potentially contaminated ground or well water. Once set up, the technology is cheap and renewable and provides communities with a regular and safe supply of water. Sandbranch, only miles from Dallas, was originally founded by a community of Freedmen. The community formerly used wells for its water supply but after these wells were contaminated, the community has never been connected to city or county water supplies and relies on donations of bottled water for all its water needs.
The project, led by The Chisholm Legacy Project and The Until Justice Corporation, would install hydropanels at 19 Sandbranch homes and a community hydropanel to provide water for residents in mobile homes. The project has already seen success with installation at 4 community homes and the partnership is seeking to raise funds to ensure all Sandbranch residents have access to safe and clean drinking water.
The National Wildlife Federation’s work in Sandbranch is part of a broader effort to bring attention to areas of historic water infrastructure inequity in Texas. The organization’s Texas Coast and Water Program has called for the state to use an historic influx of federal infrastructure funds to prioritize long-overdue water system upgrades in historically disadvantaged communities such as Sandbranch.
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