Article

Water Sanitation Practices on the Texas-Mexico Border: Implications for Physicians on Both Sides

Authors: IRINA CECH, PhD, AMELIA ESSMAN, MS

Abstract

With the epidemic of cholera in South and Central America and reports of cholera in the Northern Hemisphere in Mexico, increasing concern focuses on sanitation problems along the border between the United States and Mexico, It is feared that binationally shared water supplies are threatened or contaminated by sewage and other wastes. Although much anecdotal information exists, surprisingly few hard data are available in the United States (or in Mexico, for that matter) regarding water quality on the Mexican side of the border. This shortage of data is felt most acutely in the semiarid portions of the border, where water is extraordinarily scarce. In 1987, researchers at the University of Texas School of Public Health (UTSPH) began gathering data on the availability, accessibility, and bacteriologic and chemical safety of raw and finished drinking water in Mexico its border with Texas. In view of their timely significance, we wish to share pertinent data. This particular study was carried out in Ciudad Juarez, a city of more than 1 million people, situated just across the Rio Grande from the Texas city of El Paso. The investigation was conducted at the invitation and with the assistance of municipal authorities of Cd. Juarez. As far as we know, this was the first time the water in Cd. Juarez had been tested for indicator fecal bactera and other selected contaminants.

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