Water Equity Clearinghouse

Texas A&M University College of Architecture


Texas A&M’s College of Architecture is a research institution steeped in values of community service and social equity. Founded in 1906, more than 15,000 students have graduated from the program and gone on to work in city councils, planning and zoning commissions, and school boards. The highly influential and impactful work that these students go on to do make the College of Architecture’s culture of enacting positive change especially beneficial. 

The College has a number of programs that teach principles of architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, land development, construction science, and visualization sciences. The several research labs sponsored by the College further these learning goals and rich values. For example, the Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center focuses extensively on how socially vulnerable populations respond to natural disasters such as Hurricane Ike, and what are the best practices on the road to recovery.

Efforts to Advance Water Equity

Within water equity, Texas A&M’s College of Architecture is making strides in enhancing the quality of life for residents living in colonias and other economically distressed areas of Texas. Colonias are informal, typically lower-income communities on the Texas and Mexico border that often lack access to major infrastructure, such as potable water, paved roads, sewage systems, storm drainage systems, and electricity. The Texas A&M University Colonias program has 42 resource centers across the Rio Grande Region that bring a number of social programs to residents. These include educational initiatives, GED classes, job trainings, health services, and other capacity building services.

In addition, the TAMU Colonias Program runs a Water Project that is dedicated to the production, distribution, and research of affordable ceramic water filters for colonia residents. These filters are a low-tech solution to the problem of unsafe and unclean drinking water.

TAMU is also bringing attention to the widespread and devastating flooding events that Sunnyside, a neighborhood in Houston, experiences far too often. In addition, the neighborhood is located within one mile of three large hazardous waste producers and two major sources of air pollution. As 40 percent of the residents live in poverty, the issue is a severe case of environmental injustice, which a group of students is working to ameliorate.

Texas A&M’s High Impact: Education First program granted landscape architecture and urban planning, construction science, and visualization $25,000 to learn about these chronic environmental programs, engage in a range of interdisciplinary courses, and then apply the theory and skills learned to developing solutions to the neighborhood’s problems.

The project will culminate in a master plan that includes an analysis of existing conditions and suggestions for infrastructure improvements to make the neighborhood more resilient to impacts from disasters.