Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Water and People Project: An Assessment of the Relationships Between Water and Young People in the Colonias of the U.S.-Mexico Border
by Vela, Margie R., Ph.D., New Mexico State University, 2019, 150; 22588181
Abstract (Summary)

Lack of access to potable water through a conveyance system impacts all aspects of modern life. Many colonias, communities in the Southwestern United States along the U.S.–Mexico border, continue to lack access to piped, treated, and quality water. A facilitated discussion with five environmental and public health experts who frequently work in the colonias of West Texas corroborated common themes found in these communities. This study used these themes as the foundation for discovering the Pathway Model Connecting Water and Education. The model establishes and explores intermediary conditions impacting wellness, health, and quality of life for community members, and determines local community investments for advancing positive effects in education outcomes. A mixed methods analysis explores the model for a high school serving four colonias in West Texas. Surveys were used to collect primary data from 138 high school students. These data were analyzed using chi-square test of association and the odds ratio to establish significant association and the likelihood of significant conditions occurring per the characteristics of available drinking water in the homes of student participants. Significant association was found between the characteristics of the students’ domestic drinking water and parent engagement in school activities, the frequency by which students experienced distraction from class due to poor hygiene, the practice of the student visiting a doctor when they are sick, access to a doctor’s office or clinic in their community, access to a place to exercise, the frequency by which the student engages in exercise, frequency of parents exercise habits, whether they had health insurance, weather they missed school due to poor hygiene, what language they speak at home, their educational plans, and their access to fruits and vegetable. Additionally, using elements of Youth Participatory Action Research, participants submitted data in the form of photographs and narratives. Student researchers independently identified and examined common water issues found in their communities. The authors analyzed and categorized the student submissions for frequency, resulting in a high count of built capital concerns. As federal, state, local and private investments are beginning to emerge for rural development and to promote equity, these findings have potential to inform policy makers for infrastructure spending decisions including those in communities that have recently faced devastation and are in the process of rebuilding sustainable infrastructure with limited financial capital.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gutierrez, Paul H.
Commitee: Fernald, Alexander, Medina, Christina, Stringam, Blair
School: New Mexico State University
Department: Water Science and Management
School Location: United States -- New Mexico
Source: DAI-A 81/3(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Social research, Environmental Studies, Water Resources Management
Keywords: Colonias, Community capital, Educational attainment, Socio-environment, Water, Water equity
Publication Number: 22588181
ISBN: 9781088354865
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