Meeting the Water and Sanitation Challenges of Underbounded Communities in the U.S.

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  • Dr. James R. Mihelcic is Professor of Civil and Environ Engrg and Director of the Engineering for International Development Engineering at the University of South Florida (Tampa). He co-edited the sanitation technology chapters of the Global Water Pathogen Project and is lead author for Field Guide to Environ Engrg for Development Workers
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Meeting the Water and Sanitation Challenges of Underbounded Communities in the U.S.

Wanted to share our recent articleon Meeting the Water and Sanitation Challenges of Underbounded Communities in the U.S. (Environ. Sci. Technol. 2022, 56, 16, 11180–11188, https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.2c03076 ).    Let me know what you think or if you have questions,  James Mihelcic, University of South Florida (Tampa)

Abstract. Water and sanitation (wastewater) infrastructure in the United States is aging and deteriorating, with massive underinvestment over the past
several decades. For many years, lack of attention to water and
sanitation infrastructure has combined with racial segregation and
discrimination to produce uneven access to water and wastewater services
resulting in growing threats to human and environmental health. In many
metropolitan areas in the U.S., those that often suffer
disproportionately are residents of low-income, minority communities
located in urban disadvantaged unincorporated areas on the margins of
major cities. Through the process of underbounding (the selective expansion of city boundaries to exclude certain neighborhoods often
based on racial demographics or economics),
residents of these communities are disallowed municipal citizenship and live without piped
water, sewage lines, and adequate drainage or flood control. This
Perspective identifies the range of water and sanitation challenges
faced by residents in these communities. We argue that future investment
in water and sanitation should prioritize these communities and that
interventions need to be culturally context sensitive. As such,
approaches to address these problems must not only be technical but also
social and give attention to the unique geographic and political
setting of local infrastructures.
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