Spotlight Story

18 October 2023

Ángel Colón: A Champion for Clean Water in Latino Communities



Category: Spotlight Story

For Ángel Colón, studying water has always been a lifelong passion and a professional calling. Hailing from Puerto Rico, Ángel has dedicated his career to understanding and safeguarding water resources. With a background in biology and a Ph.D. in water resources from the University of Missouri, his expertise covers freshwater ecosystems, water quality, and access to clean water, especially for Latino communities in the Missouri area.

His journey into this field began as a child when he shared moments by the river with his grandfather. Those early experiences, exploring rivers, flipping rocks, and observing aquatic life, unknowingly laid the foundation for his future career. Little did he know that these early adventures were water quality indicators, foreshadowing a lifelong commitment to understanding and preserving water resources in Puerto Rico and beyond.

His academic journey took him to Missouri, where he pursued a bachelor's degree in biology. Then, he continued his studies and completed a PhD in water resources at the University of Missouri. It was during this time that Ángel honed his expertise in water quality, focusing on rivers, streams, and water security.

Ángel's career path was shaped by his fascination with water and a profound concern for the security and quality of this vital resource. His research during his master's degree in Puerto Rico involved water quality indicators and reference streams at the Maricao State Forest, providing valuable insights into monitoring and protecting these vital ecosystems.

It is with this commitment to environmental causes that he reached out to the Hispanic Access Foundation, where he found a platform to amplify his voice and make a difference. He is part of the Latino Climate Council, where he connected with like-minded professionals and conservation programs. One of Ángel's notable contributions through the council was his involvement in a project funded by Liquid IV, focusing on water equity. This initiative addressed the critical issue of ensuring access to clean water for all communities, irrespective of their background or socioeconomic status.

His participation in the creation of the "Agua Corriente: Latino Connections to Waterways" report is another notable contribution to the organization. This comprehensive white paper aimed to understand the relationship between Latino communities and major rivers like the Mississippi and Colorado River. The report revealed crucial findings about common concerns related to water quality within Latino communities, and the importance of fostering conversations about it to support public policy.

The Missouri region faces significant environmental challenges. Nonpoint source pollution, a major problem in the state, involves pollutants that cannot be traced back to a single source. Elements like pesticides, herbicides, salt, and even pet waste can contaminate streams and rivers when washed into them by rain or snowmelt. The lack of regulation for nonpoint source pollution makes it a particularly challenging issue to tackle. Ángel's expertise in water quality and his commitment to environmental advocacy position him as an asset in addressing these challenges.

Ángel advocates for educating and empowering Latino communities to fight for clean water and a healthy environment. By actively engaging with communities and amplifying their concerns, he is helping to bridge gaps to create a future where access to clean water is equitable and sustainable.

“To achieve changes for the Latino communities, we need to occupy spaces, we need to be there and not let others make that decision for us.”

 

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