Private Charity Steps In To Clean Up Navajo Nation's Water, Contaminated for Five Years

When the water in Flint, Michigan was contaminated it was the lead story on the news for weeks. However, you may not have heard that parts of the Navajo Reservation which spans parts of Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico have had contaminated drinking water for the last five years.

A private non-profit called Dig Deep who normally specializes in bringing clean water to remote areas in the Third World is stepping in to clean up this problem here in the U.S.

This is welcome news for the staff and students at a school for special needs children located on the reservation.

The students at St. Michaels Association for Special Education said they’re used to living with dirty water, but they’re excited that it’s finally about to change.

“Our tap water is black and stinky,” claimed the students at St. Michaels.

That’s been the reality for the students at St. Michaels for the last five years, at their school about 20 miles outside of Gallup.

“We have to buy our water at the store and carry it to class,” said the students.

Constantly having to buy water has gotten expensive.

“Some of my co-workers’ classrooms, because they have six or seven students in their class, they’re going through multiple cases of water a week,” said Sami Rapp, the therapy aid at St. Michaels.

That’s why they called Dig Deep for some help.

If it were a state, the reservation would rank between West Virginia and South Carolina in terms of land area and 40% of its population is faced with black, undrinkable water full of lead and arsenic. Dig Deep aims to fix that.

“We’re going to capture that water as it enters the property, and we’re going to build a little water treatment plant with three different water filtration processes,” said George McGraw, the founder of Dig Deep. “We’ll make sure that not only clean water is flowing into campus, but it’s not getting dirty anywhere else.”

The organization usually spends at least six months on projects like this, but expects to have clean water for St. Michaels by June.

“The timeline here has really accelerated because of the fact that it is a special needs school and things need to happen quickly because the water is so unsafe,” said McGraw.

With Dig Deep’s help, the students and staff at St. Michaels are just looking forward to finally having clean water right at their fingertips.

It’s good that groups like Dig Deep exist because the government can’t (and shouldn’t) do everything.