AbstractInformal settlements known as colonias in the US often lack access to infrastructure services or receive subpar services. Existing literature has focused on the dilapidated state of the physical infrastructure with less attention paid to how residents interact with their available systems while facing unreliable services. Using a survey carried out in 2018, this study explores the human–infrastructure interactions in residents of a non-border colonia in central Texas. Qualitative content analysis was used to explore how residents interact with their water and wastewater infrastructure within their household. Our study shows that residents’ perceptions of water safety influenced how residents used their household’s water infrastructure. Residents preferred alternative drinking water sources, seeking out bottled water. They also modified their services received via filtering and boiled drinking water from the tap. Importantly, the household income level was significantly associated with how residents interacted with water infrastructure, raising equity and cost issues. Regarding wastewater infrastructure, operational problems with septic tanks were the most pressing problems for residents. Maintenance costs were found to represent a barrier for residents precluding the sustainable operation of septic tanks in the long-term. Understanding how colonia residents respond to infrastructure challenges can enable policymakers to develop more effective and efficient policies for built-environment interventions. These findings should also prompt policymakers to assess state and local institutions’ roles as providers and enforcers of Texas water and environmental quality.

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