Source: American Community Survey via The Washington Post
On March 22, World Water Day brings our attention to the importance of accessible water. To commemorate 2019’s theme of ‘Leaving no one behind’, we will be shedding some light on why America’s clean water crisis exists, and what’s being done to remedy it.
Water is Life and a basic human right
It’s an undeniable fact that we can’t live without clean water. Which is why on July 28, 2010, through Resolution 64/292, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the human right to water and sanitation. This resolution acknowledges that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all human rights.
However, while most Americans know that other countries lack clean water, they are unaware that millions of Americans also lack this vital resource.
One of America’s most severe cases of Water Poverty
The Navajo Nation is one of the hardest hit and longest suffering areas in the USA, when it comes to water poverty.
It’s also one of the largest areas—as big as the state of West Virginia. In fact, the Navajo Nation covers the corners of three states: Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah—that’s 27,673 square miles.
Source: Google Maps
Shockingly, over 54,000 people in the Navajo Nation do not have clean running water for cooking, drinking, bathing, and sanitizing cookware. It’s a problem so acute, that this region is sometimes compared to sub-Saharan Africa.
A day in the life with no running water
Residents must travel up to 20 miles to fetch water from livestock tanks or wells. This may be contaminated with deadly parasites, arsenic, uranium, or life-threatening E. coli.
What’s more, many subsist on 10% of the USA’s average water use. Roads are not well-maintained, and gas for travel can be scarce, as well.
This region is not the only one hit hard by contaminated water. We’ve seen horrific news reports about the crumbling, toxic infrastructure in cities like Flint, Michigan. Celebrities have stepped in to bring awareness to Flint, and for that we’re grateful.
However, the Navajo Nation’s clean water crisis goes largely ignored. This is why it’s our focus for World Water Day’s 2019 theme: ‘Leaving No One Behind.’
The Navajo Nation’s crisis is America’s crisis
In 2015, Colorado and New Mexico declared stretches of the Animas and San Juan rivers to be disaster areas. This was due to 3 million gallons of toxic waste spilling from an abandoned gold mine. It not only affected these two states; it also reached Lake Powell in Utah. And it destroyed a water source for the Navajo Nation.
Source: Jerry McBride, Durango Herald 2015
To make matters worse, the Navajo Nation also has contaminated land and water due to uranium mines in the area.
Can we end water poverty in the Navajo Nation?
Destroying waterways and land is criminal. And those being victimized are doing their best to get justice. In fact, the Navajo Nation pursued a lawsuit against the EPA for their major part in the spill.
However, in November of 2018, the EPA asked the courts to toss it out. To date, I see no record of reparations to those harmed by these ecological disasters. Perhaps with more awareness and outcry, industries will be forced to improve oversight, respect people’s land and waterways, and be held accountable. But in the meantime, you may be wondering...
How can we bring fresh water to the Navajo Nation NOW?
Here’s where the grassroots organization Dig Deep rises up.
For those unfamiliar with Dig Deep, it was founded by George McGraw. He became aware of the Navajo Nation’s clean water crisis via a donor. She asked if her money could be earmarked for the United States, rather than another country. From there, George McGraw became focused on water-accessibility for Navajo reservations.
And the Navajo Water Project was born.
The Navajo Water Project gives 100% of all donations to Navajo families. With these funds, Dig Deep builds solar panels as well as clean-water plumbing. This means that kids can spend evenings studying and reading, rather than hauling buckets of water home. Family members need not suffer or die from contaminated water, any longer.
This is how Dig Deep follows World Water Day’s credo of ‘leaving no one behind.’
If you’d like to support Dig Deep, you can donate or buy beautiful hand-made gifts from their online shop. Another way to help is by purchasing from our Give Water collection. R.O.S.E Clothing donates 15% of every sale from this collection to the Navajo Water Project.
We hope this blog motivates you to support our life-changing, life-saving efforts. Together, we can help end America’s clean water crisis.