Wendy Jepson

Wendy Jepson
Texas A&M University | TAMU · Department of Geography

Ph.D., University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)

About

66
Publications
22,079
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2,497
Citations
Additional affiliations
August 2003 - present
Texas A&M University
Position
  • Professor (Associate)

Publications

Publications (66)
Article
Full-text available
This article examines household-level characteristics that predict water insecurity in low-income rural and periurban communities on the Texas–Mexico border. We employ two logistic regression models (binary and ordered) to identify household characteristics that are more likely to result in water insecurity. Our analyses yielded unexpected findings...
Article
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Small-scale decentralised facilities and household-level water purification technologies (HWTs) have become unconventional modes of delivering potable water. This paper examines how HWTs transformed from a temporary solution to unsanitary drinking water conditions in the global South to a legitimised technological fix for communities that experienc...
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Our study investigates why low-income Mexican-American residents living in rural and periurban subdivisions (colonias) in South Texas, one of the poorest regions in the United States, are increasingly dependent upon water vending machines as the main source of drinking water despite continued water infrastructure development. We outline a relationa...
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This paper develops a household water security measurement for low-income peri-urban and rural communities (“colonias”) on the US–Mexico border. The complexity of a “no-win” waterscape – where water service exists but is relatively expensive and water quality is still precarious – precludes a meaningful assessment and analysis because there are no...
Article
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Current scholarship on poverty in the U. S. borderlands argues that limited low-income housing and unenforced land development regulations cause poor domestic water access in south Texas's predominantly Mexican-American rural and periurban low-income communities (colonias). In this article, I argue that water politics, not only poverty or failed pu...
Article
The public demand for companies to assume responsibility for social and environmental impacts of their operations has led to an increase in the number of industries adopting corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies. The water industry, defined in this article as public and private suppliers of water, holds the unique responsibility to manag...
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Water security requires not only sufficient availability of and access to safe and acceptable quality for domestic uses, but also fair distribution within and across populations. However, a key research gap remains in understanding water security inequality and its dynamics, which in turn creates an impediment to tracking progress towards sustainab...
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Since the late 1970s, the term “colonias” (in English) has described low‐income, peri‐urban, and rural subdivisions north of the U.S.‐Mexico border. These communities are in arid and semi‐arid regions—now in a megadrought—and tend to have limited basic infrastructure, including community water service and sanitation. Recent scholarship has demonstr...
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Climate resilient development has become the new paradigm for sustainable development influencing theory and practice across all sectors globally—gaining particular momentum in the water sector, since water security is intimately connected to climate change. Climate resilience is increasingly recognised as being inherently political, yet efforts of...
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Household survey data from 27 sites in 22 countries were collected in 2017–2018 in order to construct and validate a cross-cultural household-level water insecurity scale. The resultant Household Water Insecurity Experiences (HWISE) scale presents a useful tool for monitoring and evaluating water interventions as a complement to traditional metrics...
Article
This article compares urban and rural household water insecurity experiences during the last major drought period (2011–17) in the semi-arid interior region of Ceará, Brazil. Using data from a household survey (N = 322), we determined that households in small urban areas are more and differently water insecure than rural counterparts. Factor analys...
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Puerto Rico’s residents were left without water services for up to nine months in the wake of hurricanes Irma and María (2017). Further, it was clear that there were no viable plans for addressing water provision gaps in anticipation of future hazards. In response, Puerto Ricans initiated autogestión, a strategy to secure survival through self-prov...
Article
Due to the global challenge of water insecurity, desalination capacity in the world has grown in recent decades. At the same time, concerns over desalination's detrimental environmental impact have increased. To evaluate the environmental impact of desalination, Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) are often conducted. Yet, the disparate array of LCA studi...
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2021): Advancing urban water security: The urbanization of water-society relations and entry-points for political engagement, Water International, ABSTRACT We seek to advance a critical and relational concept of urban water security that theorizes urban processes in relation to the hydro-social dynamics that produce experiences of water securities...
Article
Water scholarship has advanced considerably in recent decades. Despite this remarkable progress, water challenges may be growing more quickly than our capacity to solve them. While much progress has been made toward achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6 — water and sanitation for all — new stressors have emerged to threaten this progress. Far fr...
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Objective To assess the links between structural and household determinants of household water insecurity and test three water insecurity measures against self-reported diarrhoea, dengue fever and perceived stress in the middle-income and low-income urban areas of Torreón, Mexico. Design Cross-sectional household survey conducted in two waves (rai...
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Q-methodology is a mixed qualitative-quantitative method used to measure social perspectives on issues relating to sustainability and environmental governance in a systematic, replicable manner. Although its use grown over the past two decades, to date there has not been a comprehensive review of the environmental sustainability Q-methodology liter...
Article
In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a set of public guidelines for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) prevention measures that highlighted handwashing, physical distancing, and household cleaning. These health behaviors are severely compromised in parts of the world that lack secure water supplies, particularly in low- and mi...
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Water recycling has been offered as an important adaptation for urban water systems facing deficits due to climate change. While the volume of recycled water has increased exponentially since the 2000s, its integration into municipal supply has not reached its potential. To better understand the processes that influence its uptake, this paper synth...
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Safe and secure water is a cornerstone of modern life in the global North. This article critically examines a set of prevalent myths about household water in high‐income countries, with a focus on Canada and the United States. Taking a relational approach, we argue that household water insecurity is a product of institutionalized structures and pow...
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Water problems due to scarcity, inaccessibility, or poor quality are a major barrier to household functioning, livelihood, and health globally. Household-to-household water borrowing has been posited as a strategy to alleviate unmet water needs. However, the prevalence and predictors of this practice have not been systematically examined. Therefore...
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Urban water security strategies commonly pivot around supply-side initiatives to mitigate scarcity, forecasted population growth, or anticipated climate change; yet, scholars have begun to expand urban water security scholarship by including alternative frameworks that incorporate equity into the analysis. Our study seeks to contribute to this equi...
Article
In this commentary we draw attention to water sharing as political, highlighting the stakes and concerns around such practices. We engage a broad definition of politics, capturing everyday acts and practices that might be interpreted along a gradient ranging from mundane and banal forms of resistance, to refusal, to more obvious and visible acts of...
Article
Billions of people globally, living with various degrees of water insecurity, obtain their household and drinking water from diverse sources that can absorb a disproportionate amount of a household's income. In theory, there are income and expenditure thresholds associated with effective mitigation of household water insecurity, but there is little...
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Water connects the environment, culture, and biology, yet only recently has it emerged as a major focus for research in human biology. To facilitate such research, we describe methods to measure biological, environmental, and perceptual indicators of human water needs. This toolkit provides an overview of methods for assessing different dimensions...
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Objective Progress towards equitable and sufficient water has primarily been measured by population-level data on water availability. However, higher-resolution measures of water accessibility, adequacy, reliability and safety (ie, water insecurity) are needed to understand how problems with water impact health and well-being. Therefore, we develop...
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Objectives: Food and water insecurity have both been demonstrated as acute and chronic stressors and undermine human health and development. A basic untested proposition is that they chronically coexist, and that household water insecurity is a fundamental driver of household food insecurity. Methods: We provide a preliminary assessment of their...
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Water insecurity concerns drove San Antonio, Texas to pursue a controversial $3.4 billion groundwater transfer project from central Texas aquifers. The 228 km Vista Ridge Pipeline (VRP) would increase water supplies by 20%. Analysis through Q-Method revealed three social perspectives surrounding the VRP. Project Advocates offer particular views of...
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Introduction A wide range of water-related problems contribute to the global burden of disease. Despite the many plausible consequences for health and well-being, there is no validated tool to measure individual- or household-level water insecurity equivalently across varying cultural and ecological settings. Accordingly, we are developing the Hous...
Article
Water sharing offers insight into the everyday and, at times, invisible ties that bind people and households with water and to one another. Water sharing can take many forms, including so‐called “pure gifts,” balanced exchanges, and negative reciprocity. In this study, we examine water sharing between households as a culturally embedded practice th...
Article
A ‘water fund’ is a model for watershed conservation that cities throughout Latin America are quickly adopting. Based upon the concept of Payments for Ecosystem Services, urban actors and international NGOs pay into a trust fund that finances conservation activities in rural communities existing in and around ecosystems important for water flowing...
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This paper examines how the state responds to persistent claims of environmental injustice in overburdened communities. Our analysis focuses on activities, objectives, and processes of state intervention to understand how state actors attempt to rescript the meaning of environmental justice. We develop our analysis through a case study of the U.S....
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Household water insecurity has serious implications for the health, livelihoods and wellbeing of people around the world. Existing methods to assess the state of household water insecurity focus largely on water quality, quantity or adequacy, source or reliability, and affordability. These methods have significant advantages in terms of their simpl...
Article
Our aim in this paper is not to abandon, but rather reconceptualize, water security in ways that explicitly link to broader social and political relations that enable benefits to water related services (e.g., drinking, recreation, productive uses, cultural practices) rather than focus on the materiality of access to water in and of itself. Our conc...
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Despite the central importance of water for human wellbeing and development, researchers and practitioners have few tools to quantitatively measure, assess, and compare the scope and scale of household and individual water insecurity across cultural and climatic variations. There are multiple definitions of water insecurity, and the analytical tool...
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Wind-power development in the U.S. occurs primarily on private land, producing royalties for landowners through private contracts with wind-farm operators. Texas, the U.S. leader in wind-power production with well-documented support for wind power, has virtually all of its ~12 GW of wind capacity sited on private lands. Determining the spatial dist...
Chapter
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This study analyzes pro-wind, “anti-environmental” discourses prevalent among key stakeholders in Nolan County, Texas, the epicenter of US wind power. We draw upon interviews conducted within a Q-method study to examine environmental views held by key actors in wind-farm development. We frame our analysis within the theoretical field that engages t...
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Since 2000, U.S. wind-energy capacity has increased 24 percent per year, with Texas emerging as the leading state. Multidimensionality, economic decline, and ownership-participation hypotheses dominate recent geographical research on social perspectives toward wind energy. We examine these hypotheses regarding support of wind power from the perspec...
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We examine how access regimes, defined by a set of interrelated institutions and organizations, facilitated the flow of production resources and benefits that resulted in patterns of land change in the Brazilian Cerrado. We analyzed remotely sensed data (Landsat MSS, TM, +ETM) for three time periods (1972/1973-1986, 1986-1992, 1992-2002) with quali...
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In economic geography, explanations of emerging agricultural frontier regions are dominated by two theoretical perspectives: land-rent theory and political economy. This article advances current research by applying concepts from new institutional economics to reconcile these models. Drawing from a case of frontier expansion in eastern Mato Grosso...
Article
The Brazilian Cerrado, a biodiverse savanna ecoregion covering ∼1.8 million km2 south and east of the Amazon rainforest, is in rapid decline because of the expansion of modern agriculture. Previous studies of Cerrado land-use and land-cover (LULC) change imply spatial homogeneity, report widely varying rates of land conversion, use ambiguous LULC c...
Book
Land use and land-cover change research over the past decade has focused mainly on contemporary primary land-cover conversions in the tropics and sub-tropics, with considerable resources dedicated to the explanation and prediction of tropical deforestation and often ignoring the dynamism in the world's agro-pastoral landscapes. This collection inte...
Article
The Brazilian case of biotechnology governance represents a key test in understanding the future global distribution of genetically modified (GM) crops. In Brazil, a legal moratorium against commercial planting of GM crops was in force from 1998 to 2003; however, contraband or "Maradona" soybeans occupied significant areas of cropland, especially i...
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We present an extensive review of the literature on remote sensing and land change in Amazonia as part of a call for new methods to study the recent expansion of mechanized annual cropping. Following the review is a presentation of the use of multitemporal Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) 250-meter Vegetation Index (VI) data to...
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Policy makers concerned with managing rapidly developing agriculture on the Amazon frontier currently have no Basin-wide spatial and temporal information on exactly when and how soybean and other mechanized annual cropping have developed in the region. To address this, we present a preliminary evaluation of the use of Moderate Resolution Imaging Sp...
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Private colonization is the use of companies and cooperatives to survey, demarcate and occupy land, build infrastructure, open roads, plan urban areas, and provide health services and education. Although state-directed colonization projects are strongly implicated in recent environmental and social changes in the Brazilian Amazon, areas settled by...
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This paper studies the farm worker unionization experience and the historical development of Mexican-American women's activism in South Texas to elaborate more precisely the relationship among socio-spatial practices, political activism and labor's geography. Drawing upon archival documents and interviews, the paper describes how Mexican-American f...
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The Cerrado, the tropical savanna covering 22% of Brazil's territory, or approximately 1.783 million km2, has suffered significant human impacts during the past three decades. This paper re-examines estimates of Cerrado vegetation change dynamics using high-resolution satellite remote sensing data from an area of interest extracted from eastern Mat...
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Ecological modernisation is a normative theory that explains why society's institutions and practices change in response to environmental consequences of industrial economies. It is also a term used to describe broader processes of change in environmental governance. In this paper, we use the second concept to explore the development of Brazil's go...
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Journal of Latin American Geography 3.1 (2004) 96-102 Ranchers, gold miners, loggers and smallholder colonists have been clearing forest in the Brazilian Amazon since the late 1960s (Hecht and Cockburn 1990; Schmink and Wood 1992). In the 1990s, new agents of environmental change arrived in the region: mechanized commercial farmers. Some cite stati...
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Monsanto’s request to commercialize its genetically-modified (GM) herbicide-resistant soybean technology in Brazil sparked heated debate and protest. This paper explores the conflict and illustrates how biosafety politics and policy outcomes are highly contested and situated, rather than controlled by external forces within the ever-expanding globa...

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Projects (4)
Project
Our research question is: what is the relationship between water insecurity and water-related disease? Our hypothesis is that higher levels of water insecurity will result in higher levels of water-borne disease. We have chosen to work in Torreon, Mexico, because it is a city with chronic water problems and we have institutional connections with the School of Medicine, Universidad Autónoma de Coahuila and COLEF. The research is funded by TAMU-CONACYT collaborative grant. We hope to use this pilot project as an initial stage for a larger interdisciplinary project that focuses on groundwater, human health, and water insecurity in urban areas of northern Mexico.
Project
The project's major research goal is to evaluate hybrid water-provisioning systems in terms of household water security. The emergence of regulated and unregulated water technologies, practices, and institutions that configure coexistence begs the question of its efficacy for human development and water security: (1) Does system coexistence increase or decrease household water security? (2) What particular configurations of formal and informal technologies and practices enhance or reduce household water security? (3) How do different hybrid water-provisioning systems compare in terms of household water security? Answers to these questions will provide meaningful insights as to the benefits and limitations of alternative water-provisioning systems, informing development interventions and investments. Moreover, such answers will also provide an empirical basis to further evaluate the model of centralized, piped water networks as the modern ideal for securing domestic water provision.
Project
Desalination of seawater and brackish groundwater and wastewater reuse are seen as major technological interventions that can address the increased pressure on water resources in the context of growing global demand for freshwater for domestic and productive uses. While offering new sources of water, critics highlight several impediments to their sustainable implementation and negative impacts across regions and environments. Our three-year project examines the global desalination and water reuse corporate and finance sector, analyzes the legal framework for unconventional water production across case study sites, and examines the complex water governance regimes that promote and challenge the transformation of this sector in water-stressed urban regions in Texas, California, Australia, and Israel.