PKG Social Impact Internships: Natalia Perez Lodeiro (’22)
My name is Natalia and I am a Junior in Course 10-Eng Environment. I am also minoring in Energy Studies. This IAP, I interned with the Texas Water Trade (TWT), a nonprofit that focuses on water resiliency issues in my home state of Texas. My work primarily focused on two aspects of water: conservation and access.
The population in Texas is expected to double in the next 30 years. And, according to the Texas Water Development Board, the state’s current water supply is not enough to satisfy future needs. This presents a remarkable challenge for how to best manage existing resources to ensure long-lasting equitable access to water.
One way that TWT hopes to address this challenge is by encouraging the installation of water-saving measures in large-scale commercial and residential buildings. Over IAP, I’ve been assisting TWT in this effort by performing a cost-analysis of a variety of these water-saving measures. The goal is to compare their economic viability and water-saving potential. I’ve specifically been looking at the possibility of installing dual plumbing in buildings. A dual plumbed system uses separate piping for potable (drinking) and recycled water. Using the recycled water for laundry, toilet flushing, and cooling purposes can boost water conservation by significantly reducing a building’s water consumption. So far, my work has involved tracking down plumbers, scouring through a multitude of building permits, reaching out to construction firms, using cost-estimating software, and building many, many excel spreadsheets.
Low-income households and communities of color are disproportionately affected by water access and water quality issues. In 2015, almost 5 million Texans were served by water systems with public health violations. Such violations include elevated levels of lead, arsenic, and hepatitis A.
Thus, in parallel to my cost analysis work, I’ve also been helping TWT in a project to design a water subscription service to equip families in poverty-ridden communities with access to safe drinking water. The hope is to design a service that includes water treatment and testing at a cost lower than what many of these families pay for bottled water.
Overall, my experience this IAP has allowed me to develop a deeper understanding of water-related issues in my home state. Additionally, I’ve gotten a taste of what it’s like to work at an early-stage non-profit and seen how energizing it can feel to be working with a small group of hardworking and incredibly passionate women.
Want to learn more about the PKG Social Impact Internships Program? Visit our webpage to learn about ELO opportunities for Spring 2021, and stay tuned for information for summer 2021 postings!