Having running water in our homes is something most of us take for granted. But on the Navajo Reservation 40 percent of the homes do not have running water.
There's little chance of improvement in the near future.
“As much as we would like in concept to be able to provide water to all homes on the Navajo Nation, the reality is, somebody has to pay for it,” says Jason John, a hydrologist with the Navajo Department of Water Resources.
Adding to the frustration is the increasing cost of water infrastructure. In the past it was financially feasible to put in the necessary infrastructure to bring water to residents as long as there were three homes within a mile of each other. Navajo officials say that is no longer the case.
“Because of the rise in prices of materials, gasoline and things like that it is becoming more like four homes per mile you need now," John says. "So if you go out on the reservation, and within a mile span you see less than four homes and they don’t have water now it is going to be very difficult for them to get enough points for them to get water in the future."
For Navajo Nation residents who do not have running water, the reservation is dotted with stations where they can fill containers. Users often show up in pickup trucks with huge tanks in the beds, paying 50 cents for 50 gallons.
Violet Hosteen drives 70 miles round trip a few times a month to fill a 200-gallon tank.
“It’s not drinking water. We mainly use it to wash dishes and to shower with because I’m not sure about the drinking water," Hosteen says. "We just purchase those water jugs from the supermarket for drinking water.”
To help, the federal government and the Navajo Nation are working to build hundreds of miles of pipeline and pumping stations, scheduled for completion by 2024.