drive right upThe streetscape in south Texas is dotted with coin-operated water vending machines, like this example from Watermill Express in a convenience store parking lot on U.S. 281 in Pharr. What a great idea! A simple way to cut down on the amount plastic that goes into water bottles!

features and benefitsNow, it’s probably a litle naive for me to be so enthusiastic about a business model that perhaps depends on the unreliable quality and quantity of municipal water supplies in this part of the world. (I found the tap water potable, but some profess to dislike it, seeing as how the lower valley is downstream of several large states.) And providing drinking water for farm laborers working in the hot sun isn’t the same sort of problem as hydrating your kid’s soccer team.

Nevertheless, I wish companies like this well, and I hope that they can expand northward.

only takes a quarterI dropped a quarter in the slot, placed my festival-issue water bottle under the spout, and pressed the button. The bottle holds much less than a gallon, so some of my purchase was wasted. The water isn’t chilled, but it’s wet and tasty.

I also saw drive-up ice dispensers around town. And the drive-through espresso huts that you see in the Atlantic Ocean tourist communities are replaced here by Hawaiian ice kiosks.

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