Every last drop counts: Families in Navajo Mountain receive running water
By Krista Allen
Special to the Times
DZIL NINEEZ and SÉÍYAH NIIGHÁH, Ariz.
Siblings Carlene and Dale Benally said their grandmother gives them an earful when she sees them wasting water in any way.
For instance, jumping in a barrel of water outside on a hot day, said 12-year-old Dale.“My grandma gets after us when we misuse the water,” 19-year-old Carlene added. “She says in Navajo, ‘Why are you playing with the water? You’re not supposed to be wasting water!’”
The siblings’ mother, Lillie Benally, 47, said, living here in a secluded part of Naatsis’áán, water is life.
Lillie, along with her husband and children, lives with her mother, Betty Benally, 82, in a house that was built by her late husband – 37 years ago – and then later extended by her son.
Lillie serves as caretaker to her mother, a wheelchair-user, while her husband commutes to work every day, traveling 21 miles on a dirt road before he reaches the pavement near Shonto Preparatory School.
But living here, Lillie and her family bathe at least two times a week: wet body, soap up, rinse, and finish.
People in the U.S. use about 80 to 100 gallons of water at home each day, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Lillie said each member of the Benally household uses 30 gallons.
And their livestock need watering. This means Lillie and her family has to travel to get water twice a week. The Benally family may not get all the water they want, but they have all the water they need.
Now, they don’t have to spend hours hauling water because they have clean running water and a safe wastewater disposal thanks to the International Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Foundation and its partner, the DigDeep Navajo Water Project.