When we hear about a “water crisis,” we may be inclined to think of it as a problem somewhere else, but according to DigDeep, a non-profit organization that has been providing running water for those in need, 30% of the families on the Navajo Nation have neither a tap for fresh water nor a toilet.
The organization says that on the reservation, about one in three homes do not have basic plumbing and must drive miles to a watering station to fill plastic jugs for their household needs.
DigDeep is opening an office in Flagstaff and plans to have a warehouse and distribution center soon to continue its goal of providing water to the populations in need within the region. With the Navajo Nation extending beyond Northern Arizona, Emma Robbins, who heads the Navajo Water Project, said having the organization’s offices centrally located makes sense.
“We have different projects across the Navajo Nation that are ever-evolving and growing,” said Kaitlin Harris, a field engineer for the project. “We are excited to start meeting people in Flagstaff and have a presence in such a neat town.”
Harris says she is amazed at the amount of support DigDeep has received from the community. Flagstaff residents Bill Branch and Randie Wareham are among those who have offered to help.
Wareham, a realtor for Coldwell Banker, spent months searching for a suitable location for the organization. “I am excited and honored to be working with them,” she said. “I plan to give back part of my commission to [DigDeep].”
Wareham contacted Branch, the owner of 121 Pro Commercial and Home Inspection. “I take it for granted that when you turn on the tap, water runs out and you can see through it,” Branch said. “Clean water means better health. If they [DigDeep] are able to do that, they have my vote. I am willing to help out. I did the inspection for free and sent them on their way for no charge.”
That saved the organization more than $1,500.
Robbins says there is a large grassroots donor base that keeps the project going. Recently, DigDeep has been working with community partners and volunteers to distribute a donation from Nestle of 252,000 gallons of emergency bottled water across the Navajo Nation.
Solar technicians and other DigDeep employees install items like water heaters, filters and plumbing parts. Since the Navajo Water Project was launched in 2015, 300 families have been provided with fresh running water.
Some of the work includes rehabilitating existing wells and improving watering stations so a water truck can fill up and distribute the water to homes.
“Not all wells on the reservation are safe,” Robbins said. Some residents have to drive an hour or two to get water.
With their new water systems, DigDeep representatives say residents get a sink, an underground cistern to store water, and hot and cold running water, which is made possible by hooking up to electricity or a solar panel if there is no electricity.
DigDeep was founded by George McGraw in 2014. It started with one family in New Mexico and has grown to serve 300 families across nine towns in that state. Now, DigDeep is opening offices in Arizona. FBN
By Patty McCormac, FBN
For more information about DigDeep, visit DigDeep.org.