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PI Message

The Water and People Project focuses on the socio-environmental issues that arise in communities that have limited or no access to potable water. Although this situation is much more common in third-world countries, many communities in the U.S. also experience this environmental inequity. The disparities that arise in experiences and quality of life for people living in these communities perpetuates a cycle of poverty that can best be addressed with grassroots initiatives addressing these inequities.


This project examines the relationships between people and water through the eyes of high school students living in communities with limited access or without access to water, or living in communities that have only recently gained access through municipal conveyance systems. In other words, the students have experienced their communities’ transition from having no piped water to having piped water.


These students participated in classroom training that explores water as a “wicked” socio-environmental issue. The problem is explored as a wicked problem as it cannot be completely solved. There are many stakeholders involved; so instead, we mitigate water-use in a way that all stakeholders gain benefit, yet give up certain uses to best engage in water sharing. Students were asked to reframe water as a renewable resource that has infinite potential to be recycled given certain parameters and financial resources. As we begin to think about water this way, we can begin to solve major water issues that are present in many rural communities. Students were charged with exploring their communities for the most pressing water issues affecting their families, neighbors, and peers. Students then presented solutions to these pressing problems, explaining the current barriers for implementing these solutions to overcome them. 

Thank you for visiting our page. We hope The Water and People Project inspires you to work towards an equitable world where water and people matter most. Please take a look at the presentation below to explore how water is necessary in our fight against poverty. 


Best regards,


Margie Vela


P.S. Big shout out to one of our student researchers, Sarah Lind, for designing our webpage. She is an incredible programmer, scientist, and researcher! Thanks, Sarah!!!

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