This holiday season, LA-based non-profit DIGDEEP is working to bring clean water to over 250 Navajo-American homes in New Mexico for the first time ever.
LOS ANGELES – When most Americans imagine life without clean water, they think of far-away places like Sub-Saharan Africa. But water poverty affects families right here in the United States.
Nearly 40% of Navajo Indians (and 13% of Natives nationwide) don’t have running water or a toilet. For non-Native Americans, that number is just 0.6%. In fact, while the average American uses more than 100 gallons of water every day, tens-of-thousands of Navajo get fewer than 10.
“Americans are paying close attention to the Water Crisis in places like Kenya,” notes George McGraw, Executive Director of DIGDEEP. “But water poverty exists right here at home. Water poverty has a zip code. You can call a family without clean water… serve beside them in the U.S. Military. It’s surprising and frustrating to think that this problem gets so little attention.”
Today, many families in Smith Lake, New Mexico receive a limited amount of water from a well nearly 70 miles away. Water is delivered once a month by truck, but most families’ supply runs out quickly, forcing them to collect additional water from unsafe sources like open livestock troughs. This water can be contaminated with uranium or arsenic. Without basic infrastructure, families keep their water in buckets on the front porch, exposing it to freezing temperatures and contamination.
This holiday season, DIGDEEP is working to bring reliable, clean water access to these 250 Navajo-American homes through the “Give Water, Give Warmth” campaign. The campaign raises funds for the Navajo Water Project, a community-led initiative encompassing a new 2000’ well, water storage facility and home infrastructure improvements. When the project is completed, local families will benefit from free, trucked water delivery in an amount that meets international standards. The project will also provide beneficiaries with an elevated water tank, using gravity to feed sinks and toilets year ‘round. Active participation by families, Navajo Chapters, and partner organizations will ensure long-term sustainability. The first phase of construction, costing over $100,000, is set to begin in Spring 2015. An additional $250,000 is needed to fully fund the project.
You can support the Navajo Water Project by purchasing a blanket or holiday gift on the campaign website: www.digdeep.org/navajo. The “Give Water, Give Warmth” campaign features Pendleton blankets of various designs, with proceeds benefitting the project. Because much of Smith Lake doesn’t have electricity, people use blankets to stay warm during the harsh winter. This holiday, for every Pendleton blanket sold, DIGDEEP will make a $100 donation to the Navajo Water Project and will send another blanket to a Navajo family in need of extra warmth.