Texans Deserve Clean Water
During a recent visit to Webb County, I had the honor of sitting in the home of a family in the Colonia Los Altos. Ms. Lucia Lopez welcomed me into her home with the hospitality anyone in Texas would expect. Pictures of her children in caps and gowns were proudly displayed in the entryway as the first thing any visitor would see upon entering her wonderful, humble home. As Moms and Grandmoms, we talked and bragged about our families. I shared with her my vision for the future of the children of Texas, "el futuro que quiero para mis nietas, es el mismo futuro que quiero para todos los niños y niñas y nietos y nietas de Tejas," the future I want for my granddaughters is the same future that I want for all the children and grandchildren of Texas.
About 350,000 Texans along our border with Mexico live in substandard communities called colonias that lack paved roads, safe and sanitary housing, and basic water and sewer systems. In some of Laredo's colonias, residents turn to unsanitary water storage methods that spread deadly diseases and cause contamination.
Two other families I visited with, accompanied by Webb County Judge Mercurio Martinez, Jr. and Webb County Commissioners Judy Gutierrez and Mike Urdiales, described the painstaking daily chore of all the families in this colonia of bringing water into their home for cooking and bathing in gallon jugs. Although a labor of love, the mothers I spoke with attended to these chores after long days of work.
My agency's State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) has a new program that will provide clean water to colonias in Laredo and other low-income areas along the Texas-Mexico border.
SECO administers a variety of programs that cut energy costs and consumption for institutions, businesses and communities. They provide technical resources for energy efficiency, financial assistance for energy retrofits, and educational materials on the benefits of energy efficiency.
My goal is to provide renewable energy-powered water purification systems to decrease health concerns and increase the quality of life in these areas.
I awarded a one-year contract to Bob J. Johnson & Associates Inc. (BJJ&A) of Houston to install the most reliable, safe and user-friendly water purification technology powered by renewable energy. Southwest Photovoltaic Systems, Inc. of Tomball are partners with BJJ&A in proposing the use of solar energy technology. The program will rely on local representatives' effort and ability to train and encourage residents to adopt the new technology.
I will kick off a similar renewable energy project later this year to benefit residents of El Paso County colonias. I often remind folks from Tyler, Texas to Colonia Los Alto in Laredo, "somos TODOS Tejanos," we are ALL Texans.