National Wildlife Federation, EPA look to get drinking water to Dallas community

National Wildlife Federation, EPA look to get drinking water to Dallas community

A meeting was held in Sandbranch Saturday to talk about how the community can get clean drinking water.

SAND BRANCH, Texas — Representatives from the National Wildlife Federation and the Environmental Protection Agency attended a Saturday meeting in Sandbranch to talk about getting drinking water to the community.

Located about 20 minutes south of Dallas, Sandbranch was founded by freed people of color in the 1800s and is in unincorporated Dallas County. The community has not had access to a municipal water or sewage system in roughly 30 years.

“My thing is: I just want to see this as a regular community,” resident Phyllis Gage said. “I have a well. The well is so old that the water has sand built up in it so you can’t drink this water.”

Residents rely on bottled water for cooking, bathing and eating.

“We’re paying taxes. So where’s my tax money going?” Gage said.

Community members told WFAA they have little faith in local government to find a solution. There was a meeting Saturday to talk about SOURCE Hydropanels as a way to get drinking water to the community.

A clearer understanding is laid out here, but essentially, the panels are powered by the sun and use fans to draw in ambient air that traps water vapors from that air.

The water vapor is extracted and condensed into liquid form in a reservoir in the panel. Minerals are then added to make the water drinkable.

Per SOURCE, a panel can make 4-10 liters daily on average.

Four Sandbranch homes already have hydro panels, including Juanita Bean’s house.

“But when I got this, I was very happy,” Bean said.

Community supporter Tonnette Byrd told WFAA seven other homes will be getting Hydropanels soon: Two of those homes were funded by the National Wildlife Federation.

“It’s almost like a third world country,” said Dr. Adrienne Hollis, who leads the National Wildlife Federation’s environmental justice team. “But the community is so resilient in the face of all of that.”

During Saturday’s meeting in Sandbranch, Hollis called on other organizations to help pay for hydro panels for six more homes.

Hollis told WFAA it costs around $8,000 to outfit one home with two hydropanels.

Byrd, who led Saturday’s meeting, pointed out that hydropanels are not a permanent solution: The goal is a drinking water system.

Money for that could come with help from the Environmental Protection Agency. Charles Maguire is the EPA Region 6 Water Division Director. He told WFAA he attended Saturday’s meeting to see the conditions firsthand.

“Can’t promise anybody the money because it is a competitive process for those grants, but this would be a very likely recipient of those grants because it’s exactly what the Congress was thinking about when they passed that law,” Maguire said.

To make a donation to pay for hydro panels for Sandbranch residents, click here and select “Sandbranch Revitalization Fund.”

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