Water Project Granted Facilities

Written by: CEHD Communications Staff
Post date: March 01, 2009

The Texas A&M Water Project, under the leadership of Associate Professor B. Stephen Carpenter in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Culture, was granted space by the Webb County Commissioners Court to build a point-of-use ceramic water filter production and education center at the Highway 359 Self Help Center in Laredo.

Carpenter and colleagues Oscar Muñoz in the College of Architecture and Bryan Boulanger in the College of Engineering spearheaded the Water Project, which is dedicated primarily to the production, distribution and research of affordable, appropriate technology ceramic water filters for residents of the Texas Colonias. The Colonias are communities along the Texas border largely without access to running water and other utilities and social services.

The cone-shaped ceramic filters are made from sawdust and clay and coated with colloidal silver, which eliminates the majority of bacteria and other microbes, providing clean drinking water.

"This project is informed by arts-based, place-based, interdisciplinary and social justice pedagogies, and embraces sustainable and renewable materials and appropriate technologies," Carpenter said.

Moreover, the group was recently given a site at the Texas A&M Riverside campus to create a water filter facility. They hope to begin building their first kiln and the facility later this spring.

The group, which also includes eight undergraduate and graduate students, meets regularly in Carpenter's garage to build the filters. Their efforts are inspired by the work of artists and project consultants Manny Hernandez of Northern Illinois University and Richard Wukich of Slippery Rock University as well as the late Ron Rivera, former coordinator of the Potters for Peace ceramic water filter project.

"Our facilities will be used for filter production, public demonstrations, workshops, classes, testing and research," Carpenter said.

"We hope to raise awareness about the potable water crisis globally as well as in Texas," he added. "We intend for our work to help people in Texas and other countries gain access to potable water through appropriate technology."