Residents of Texas colonias, border communities often lacking basic infrastructure and amenities such as running water, are learning how to purify water using clay pot filters manufactured at two facilities operated by the Texas A&M Colonias Program.
“We are training colonias residents to use a press and a kiln to create a water filter out of local clay, then to purify water by passing it through the filter and either exposing it to sunlight for eight hours in a glass or plastic container or adding two drops of chlorine, which evaporates in an hour,” said Oscar Muñoz, Colonias Program director.
The process provides water that is suitable for drinking, cooking, washing or any household use.
The facilities, one in Laredo and one in San Antonio, were established, with the help of funds donated by Rotary clubs in College Station and Laredo.
Muñoz believes filter manufacturing could be a viable business for colonias residents.
“Eventually, we want colonias residents to consider creating a cooperative or a small business to market the filters,” said Muñoz.
The water purifying technique has already been exported to Latin American, where it is providing potable water to indigenous communities. The Mexican nonprofit group that spearheaded the effort visited the Laredo facility to learn how the filters are created and employed.
Colonias Program staff, in conjunction with representatives from Texas A&M’s Health Science Center, have also begun training visitors from Ecuador, Bolivia and Guatemala.
“It’s exciting that we’re starting to make a difference to people who live in some very underdeveloped areas,” said Muñoz.