Celebrating the Holidays Through Giving

The Holiday season means many different things for people. Whether it’s getting everyone the perfect gift, spending time with family, or preparing favorite foods for friends, the holidays are a time of giving. Our family here at Tata & Howard takes holiday giving to heart. We understand how important philanthropy is to both our local and global community. For this special time of year, we are looking at some of the most charitable and full-hearted organizations we’ve had the honor to support.

DARE Family Services

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T&H’s holiday DARE Giving Tree

Since 1964, DARE Family Services has been committed to improving the lives of children who have been abused or neglected. By providing a family-based setting, they give children the opportunity to recover and live healthy, happy lives. Every holiday season, DARE Family Services reaches out to communities for gift donations to help kids experience a memorable holiday – in many cases, for the first time in their lives. At Tata & Howard, our employee-owners take DARE’s mission to heart and bring gifts to put under our DARE Giving Tree for children in need. Fortunately, we are one of many organizations and individuals who support DARE and their determination to better the lives of disadvantaged and neglected children. They help thousands of kids every year and we thank them for their generosity.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

T&H’s Heidi White raised over $3,000 for DFCI this fall through their “Run Any Race” program.”

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, along with the Jimmy Fund, is home to groundbreaking cancer discoveries. They are one of the greatest examples of a philanthropic organization working for a worthy cause – curing cancer. There are seemingly endless ways Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund raise money and resources to give hope to families affected by cancer, especially during the holidays. Tata & Howard is a proud supporter of Dana-Farber and donated $5,300 towards cancer research this past November, and donated another $1,500 this week in lieu of sending printed holiday cards to clients and friends. Some of our employee-owners are doing their own part to help them out as well. Our Marketing Communications Manager Heidi White participated in their “Run Any Race” program and raised over $3,000 by running Ragnar’s Reach the Beach in New Hampshire this past September. Also, T&H Engineer Molly Coughlin is currently training for the 2017 Boston Marathon to raise money for Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund. Her personal goal is to raise $15,850 and we are all cheering her on. Go Molly!

Water For Peoplepict_grid7

Over 1.8 billion people globally lack access to safe drinking water, and Water For People is looking to change that by committing to provide long-lasting water and sanitation infrastructure for communities in need. They operate in nine countries and have helped over four million people live better lives by providing access to clean water. To make this happen, Water For People works with communities, governments, and business owners to ensure reliable, safe water for future generations. In support of their passion for clean water, many employee-owners at Tata & Howard contribute to Water For People through automatic bi-weekly payroll deductions, which Tata & Howard matches dollar for dollar. In this way, we are able to do our part to realize Water For People’s mission of clean water for everyone, forever.

The Navajo Water Project

This man keeps his water in barrels by his outhouse. Water and sanitation always go hand in hand. About 40% of Navajo don’t have a sink or a toilet at home. Courtesy of navajowaterproject.org.

Speaking of clean water for everyone, the Navajo Water Project is an amazing organization that seeks to solve a little-known water problem. Of the nearly 200,000 Navajo population right here in America, 40% do not have running water – which has created a cycle of poverty that limits health, education, and economic security. As a subsidiary of DIGDEEP and primarily funded through private donors, the Navajo Water Project works with communities in Navajo Nation to install systems that bring running water and electricity into homes. The water is delivered via truck and safely stored in large cisterns, from which it is pumped into a sink and shower inside the home. The organization also installs solar energy systems to power the pumps and lights inside. With their determination and adequate funding, The Navajo Water Project expects to install home water systems in every Navajo home in need by 2018. Since we learned of the plight of the Navajo people in 2015, Tata & Howard has actively supported the Navajo Water Project. In 2017, which is our 25th anniversary year, we are organizing a national virtual 5K to raise money for this incredible organization. Participants will receive a beautiful medal and 100% of the cost of registration will go directly to the Navajo Water Project. Stay tuned for details of this exciting event!

The holiday season is the perfect time to give to others and to help the community, both locally and globally. Even the smallest gesture of generosity helps others in significant ways. And the best gift a person can receive is hope — and that is exactly what DARE Family Services, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Navajo Water Project, and Water for People are all about. We here at Tata & Howard encourage everyone to give to someone in need and celebrate generosity this holiday season. Happy Holidays to you and yours!

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Giving Thanks – for Water!

It is widely known how important water is to our lives and the world we live in. Our body and planet is comprised of about 70% water – making it seem like it is easily accessible and plentiful. However, when you rule out our oceans and ice caps, less than 1% of all the water on Earth is drinkable. Of that less than 1%, groundwater only accounts for 0.28% of fresh water around the globe. Safe drinking water is a privilege we often take for granted while we brush our teeth or drink a glass of water in the morning. While we are giving thanks to our family, friends, and food during Thanksgiving, we should also give big thanks for our clean drinking water and the people who make it happen.

The Importance of Clean Water 

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Villagers in Malawi travel miles to find and transport water which is rarely safe for human consumption.

Keeping yourself hydrated can do wonders for your health. The benefits water provides for our bodies range from relieving headaches, flushing toxins out of the body, improving mood, helping with weight loss, and relieving fatigue. In the U.S., we are fortunate enough to have some of the cleanest drinking water anywhere in the world to keep us healthy and safe. In other countries and for some 783 million people, that is not the case. Many do not have access to sufficient drinking water and the water they do have often contains dangerous pathogens. Often, unclean water sources are miles from villages and some people are forced to spend hours each day simply finding and transporting water. The typical container used for water collection could weigh between 40 and 70 pounds when filled. Imagine how difficult it would be to carry the equivalent of a 5-year-old child for three hours out of each day just to have water to drink. With so many people not having access to clean drinking water around the world, it is important to appreciate the plentiful and safe drinking water we have here in America.

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A visual diagram of water and wastewater distribution systems. Click the image to see full size.

A Special Thanks for the People Who Make Our Water Safe

When looking at America’s clean water, it is especially important to give special thanks to the water and wastewater utilities that work nonstop to give us some of the cleanest drinking water in the world. Despite the fact that our country has beautiful rivers and lakes, the water that comes from them to our taps goes through several processes that require a lot of work and maintenance. Our water and wastewater utilities maintain some of the highest standards in the world when it comes to drinking water, and new innovations for treatment and distribution are always being researched and implemented. Water and wastewater employees work tirelessly to meet regulatory requirements and preserve local waterways despite major setbacks like deteriorating infrastructure and shrinking funding for necessary projects. On top of treating our water, utilities are responsible for keeping their distribution systems running efficiently and also to being stewards to the environment through improving effluent quality. Our water utilities are arguably the most important utilities in the nation because water is so crucial to our survival.

In Conclusion

We are so incredibly fortunate here in the United States to not have to think twice about the purity of water from the tap, a glass of water in a restaurant, a highway rest stop, an airport, or motel – all thanks to our water and wastewater utilities. For that, we should be especially thankful. This Thanksgiving, be sure to give special thanks for having safe drinking water and to the dedicated, hard-working people at water and wastewater utilities.

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Water Crisis in the United States, Part 4: Colonias

colonias-in-texas-300x292Recently in the news, we have heard a lot about the nationwide lead in drinking water crisis and the need to update our aging infrastructure. In addition, the plight of the people living in Navajo Nation has been brought to the nation’s attention after being showcased in a video by CBS Sunday Morning News. However, there is yet another very serious water crisis in the United States that has garnered very little media attention, and this week, we will be concluding our four-part series on water crises in the United States by talking about colonias.

What Are Colonias?

Colonia translates to neighborhood in Spanish, and in the United States, colonias are primarily Hispanic neighborhoods found along the Mexican border in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas. With over 2,200 colonias, Texas has by far the most colonias in the nation, as well as the largest colonia population with over 500,000 residents. The modern-day colonia population is about 96% Mexican-American, with about 74% of those — and 94% of colonia children — being American citizens.

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A Texas colonia residence

Colonias originated in the 1950s. At this time, less than honorable developers bought up worthless land along the Mexican border — such as land that was agriculturally useless or located in flood plains — parceled it into tiny lots with little to no infrastructure and sold it off to low-income immigrants in search of affordable housing. To this day, colonias are often bought through a contract for deed, which is a questionable financing method by which developers offer low down and monthly payments with a very high interest rate and no title until the loan is paid in full. Prior to 1995, developers did not typically record the transactions with the county clerk, leaving the buyer with virtually no rights. If they fell behind on payments, the developer could repossess the property quickly, usually within just 45 days, without going through the foreclosure process.

colonias_lots_for_sale-300x201Fortunately, Texas passed the Colonias Fair Land Sales Act in 1995 to somewhat protect colonia residents who are forced to finance through a contract for deed. The Act requires developers to record the contract with the county clerk and to provide property owners with an annual statement that shows the amount paid towards the loan and taxes as well as the number of remaining payments. The Act also forces developers to itemize which services, such as water, wastewater, and electricity, are available, and whether the land is located in a flood plain.

While the Colonias Fair Land and Sales Act has improved contract for deed sales, there remain serious problems. Because property owners do not actually own the land or have a title, they cannot secure any type of financing that uses the property as collateral. Considering that colonia residents are typically well below the poverty level, any other types of financing are also unavailable to them, making it impossible to improve their property. Therefore, colonia residents typically construct their homes in drawn out phases as funds become available to them. Because of this, colonia homes often do not have electricity or even basic plumbing.

Challenges in Colonias

Arguably the most serious challenge facing colonias is the lack of improved water and sanitation services. Many colonias do not have public sewer systems and instead rely on rudimentary septic systems or outhouses that are often inadequate and overflow. And because the land is frequently in flood plains with poorly constructed roads that do not properly drain, sewage collects and pools, rife with bacteria and pathogens. Even colonias that do have sewer systems typically lack any type of wastewater treatment. Therefore, untreated wastewater is discharged into local streams that flow directly into the Rio Grande or the Gulf of Mexico.

Vending machine in Hidalgo, Image courtesy Wendy Jepson www.wendyjepson.net
Vending machine in Hidalgo, Image courtesy Wendy Jepson
www.wendyjepson.net

Potable water also presents a challenge to colonia residents. Very often, inhabitants must buy water in drums to meet their needs, or, even worse, they utilize untreated water from wells that are contaminated. Some private companies have installed water “vending machines” that provide bottled water at an astronomical cost to residents who can ill afford it. Even colonias that do have water lines have major problems, because residents are unable to tie-in due to their homes not meeting county building codes; to meet the building codes, they need to have adequate plumbing — a true Catch-22 situation. In fact, housing in colonias is typically considered dilapidated by local inspectors. Residents often start with just tents, cardboard, and lean-tos, and make improvements little by little as funds allow.

Due to the lack of improved water and sanitation, as well as lack of electrical services, it should come as little surprise that health conditions in colonias are often deplorable. Hepatitis A, dysentery, tuberculosis, cholera, salmonella, and other diseases occur at an astronomically higher rate in colonias than they do in the rest of Texas, according to Texas Department of Health data. To make matters worse, most colonias do not have local medical services and have a serious shortage of primary care providers, and most colonia residents lack health insurance. Therefore, the average age of colonia residents is only 27 — a full 10 years younger than the national average. And, just as is the case in Africa and other developing areas, quality of health is directly linked to quality of education. Therefore, many colonia residents remain undereducated — 55% of residents do not have a high school diploma — causing the cycle of poverty to continue generationally. The unemployment rate in colonias is anywhere from 20-60%, compared with 7% for the rest of Texas.

Assistance to Colonias

Thankfully, through a series of public outreach initiatives, more attention has been brought to the existence of colonias and the third-world conditions in them. In the last 20 years, the Texas Secretary of State has been recording the infrastructure, or lack thereof, within colonias and providing a significant amount of funding — tens of millions of dollars — to improve these areas. And it is working, albeit slowly. Since 2006, about 100 colonias have been moved out of the “red” category, indicating the worst conditions. However, with over 2,200 colonias along the Texas-Mexico border, there is still much work to be done.

On a federal level, USDA Rural Development has grants available through the Individual Water and Wastewater Program for households residing in an area recognized as a colonia before October 1, 1989. The colonia must be located in a rural area and determined to be a colonia on the basis of objective criteria including lack of potable water supply, lack of adequate sewage systems, lack of decent, safe and sanitary housing, and inadequate roads and drainage. Grant funds may be used to connect service lines to a residence, pay utility hook-up fees, install plumbing and related fixtures like a bathroom sink, bathtub or shower, commode, kitchen sink, water heater, outside spigot, or bathroom, if lacking. Qualifying applicants must own and occupy their home, show income from all individuals residing in the home below the most recent poverty income guidelines, and not be delinquent on any Federal debt. The maximum individual grant for water systems is $3,500 and for wastewater is $4,000 with a lifetime assistance maximum not to exceed $5,000 per individual. Further information can be found on USDA’s web site. In addition, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in Texas, Arizona, California, and New Mexico has set aside up to 10 percent of their State Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) funds for improving living conditions for colonias residents.

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Leticia Jones has received several business loans from LiftFund and now the future of her catering business is bright. Image courtesy dallasfed.org

Fortunately, colonia residents are a very resourceful, tight knit group who are willing to work together and help each other, and some private and non-profit institutions have also become involved in the plight of colonia residents. For example, Texas A&M worked with residents on a water filtration project which involved making simple filters to make water potable. In addition, a non-profit lender called the LiftFund has provided loans to some colonia residents to assist them with starting a business. These loans have a very low interest rate and are given to people who cannot qualify for a traditional loan. Colonia residents are very often entrepreneurial in spirit, perhaps through necessity. After all, for years they have done what they need to do to get by, whether it be selling handmade crafts at flea markets or cutting up tires dumped along colonia roads and turning them into unique flower pots.

In Conclusion

Colonias are a little known part of America that have conditions oftentimes no better than those found in developing countries. One of the biggest causes of generational poverty in colonias is attributed to lack of basic water and sanitation services, causing health and education issues. Just like the plight of the people living in Navajo Nation, it is shameful that people living in the richest land in the world do not have access to these basic human rights. Add to this the lack of charitable organizations supporting water poverty in the United States, and colonias qualify as one of the most significant, and heartbreaking, water crises in the nation.Subscribe-to-our-newsletter1

Water Crisis in the United States, Part 3: Lead in Drinking Water

24234972202_550138a446_o-300x202Part three of our four-part series on water crises in America is on lead contamination. Instances of lead in drinking water, such as the situation in Flint, Michigan, have become a hot topic in the media. Lead in drinking water is a problem that reaches far beyond the disaster in Flint, with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stating that roughly 10 million American homes and buildings still receive water from service lines that are at least partially lead. When water has high acidity or low mineral content, it can cause these service lines to corrode and leach lead into the water supply. Without mitigation, water from lead service lines has the potential to cause adverse health effects, particularly in children.

The EPA states that, in the last three years, only nine U.S. states are reporting safe levels of lead in their drinking water. These include Alabama, Arkansas, Hawaii, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Tennessee. This means that 41 states are consistently reporting higher than acceptable levels of lead in their drinking water. The problem is not only the lead service lines connecting water mains to homes and buildings, but also the lack of proper treatment to prevent corrosion of these lead pipes.

History of Lead Pipes in the U.S.

Residents of Flint, Lead solder holding pipes together can also contaminate the water that passes through your system.
Lead solder holding pipes together can also contaminate the water that passes through your system.

The use of lead pipes for water distribution has a centuries-old history. In the U.S., installation of lead pipes on a major scale began in the late 1800s, particularly in the larger cities. At one point, more than 70% of cities with populations greater than 30,000 used lead water lines. Lead pipes had two significant advantages over iron: they lasted almost twice as long and they were malleable enough to easily bend around existing structures. Of course, now we see the health risks associated with lead, and water systems across the country have taken steps to eliminate lead pipes in their distribution systems. Water companies and municipalities now must decide whether to replace all the lead pipe in their drinking water system, including home service lines on private property, or continue to add corrosion-control chemicals at the plant to prevent leaching of lead into the water supply.

Utilities and the Government Take Action

Water companies and municipalities across the country are working diligently to get lead out of our drinking water. Since replacing all of our nation’s lead piping may take over 20 years, utilities have found a short term solution to control the amount of lead in their drinking water. They are focusing on the treatment process and monitoring what makes up the drinking water. Introducing orthophosphates to the water supply and flushing all the standing water creates a scale of protective coating on the interior surfaces of lead pipes, reducing corrosion. This limits the amount of lead that leaches into the water and offers a short term solution as we figure out how to permanently replace all lead pipes from our water distribution systems.

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Orthophosphates added to treated drinking water has created a protective coating on the interior surface of this lead pipe.

In Wisconsin, the Madison Water Utility has become a national model for cities struggling with lead in their drinking water. They are the first major utility in the nation to demonstrate that a full replacement of both the public and the private portions of lead service lines is possible. This involved working with residents to remove lead service lines from their homes and nearby property. The project started in 2001 and has provided safe drinking water to 5,600 property owners. The plan, which was very controversial at the time, is now hailed as a model and has spurred other utilities into action. For example, Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) implemented a program that offers a credit of up to $2,000 and interest-free loans to assist homeowners who are willing to remove lead pipes on their property. BWSC also has a searchable online database for homeowners to see if their property has a lead service line.  Also, the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA) announced earlier this year that it will provide $100 million to its member water communities to fully replace lead service lines, including residential lines. These utilities are shining examples of the many organizations taking a long term approach to this national crisis.

Recent news reports of lead in drinking water and the controversy surrounding testing methodologies have acted as a catalyst for public schools across the country to test their water. Unfortunately, many of these tests indicate high, potentially dangerous, levels of lead concentrations in public drinking fountains, sparking outcry from parents and prompting a series of public meetings. In response, the EPA changed lead testing regulations on February 29, 2016 and now require utilities to use wide mouth bottles, conduct no pre-stagnation flush, and to run faucets at typical flow rates when testing for lead — precisely the opposite of how testing had previously been conducted. While many people have been quick to blame utilities for lead in their drinking water and have even gone so far to suggest that utilities have been practicing testing “cheats,” they were in actuality following protocol issued by EPA.

The EPA is also considering changes to the Safe Drinking Water Act’s rules regarding lead, and an advisory panel has proposed a more proactive approach to replacing lead pipes. The proposal would encourage public water systems to replace lead pipes versus waiting for lead levels to spike to take action. This plan involves substantial increases in funding to water companies and municipalities for the replacement of lead pipes in both the public and the private portions of lead service lines, including residential lines. With this additional funding, water utilities across the country will be able to set goals for a permanent solution to our nation’s lead crisis. Admittedly, we have a long road ahead of us as many cities simply do not know the exact number or location of lead pipes in their system. Add to that the cost and person power required to replace our nation’s lead service lines, and it becomes apparent that a 100% lead-free infrastructure is still many years away.

What Can You Do?

When water sits stagnant in lead service lines for even a few hours, it picks up lead from the pipe, which can make using your faucet hazardous. Find out if your home is serviced by lead service lines by calling your local water department. This is especially important to homes built prior to 1980. If your home still has lead service lines, you can reduce the risk of lead contamination in your drinking water by taking some simple steps:

  • Call your State Department of Public Health for health information, or visit their website.
  • Run tap water until after the water feels cold. Flushing pipes in this way before use assures that you are not drinking water that has been sitting stagnant in pipes.
  • Never use hot water from the faucet for drinking or cooking, especially when making baby formula or food for small children. Hot water from your faucet has a higher chance of containing traces of lead. Instead, use cold water and heat it on the stove or in the microwave.

In Conclusion

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The good news is that lead contaminated water crises like the situation in Flint, Michigan have called for stricter regulations and replacement of nearly six million lead service lines nationwide. The not so good news is that we still have a long way to go to completely remove all lead in our water systems. Nearly all homes built prior to the 1980s still have lead solder connecting copper pipes, and some major U.S. cities still have 100 percent lead piping that delivers water from the utilities to homes and businesses. Replacing lead service lines is the safest way to prevent lead contamination, and public and private water companies must work together with state and national organizations to replace lead pipes in all of our water distribution systems. Solving our lead contamination crisis will benefit everyone if we work together for a permanent solution. After all, everyone deserves safe drinking water.
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Water Crisis in the United States, Part 1: Navajo Nation

Great_Seal_of_the_Navajo_Nation.svg_-300x300Water poverty has long been considered a global crisis, with over 783 million people worldwide — that’s one in nine people — lacking access to a safe, clean water supply. Over half of the world’s hospital beds are filled with people afflicted with water-related illness, and over 80% of illnesses in sub-Saharan Africa are directly attributable to poor water and sanitation conditions. There are a plethora of charities dedicated to solving the global water crisis, including Tata & Howard’s and AWWA’s charity of choice Water For People. However, there are also water crises taking place right here in the United States. For the month of July, we will be delving into water crises in the United States — and how we can work together to solve them.

Navajo Nation

Last fall, CBS Sunday Morning News ran a cover story titled The Water Lady: A Savior Among the Navajo. The piece showcased Darlene Arviso, a Saint Bonaventure Indian Mission employee who delivers water to the people of Navajo Nation. Prior to that, the American people were largely unaware of the water crisis afflicting a full 40% of the 173,000 residents of Navajo Nation.

Russell Begaye, President of Navajo Nation
Russell Begaye, President of Navajo Nation

Navajo Nation, though located within the borders of the United States, is a soverign nation with its own president, and does not fall under the jurisdiction of the United States government. Therefore, it also does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Safe Drinking Water Act, which regulates all 155,000 public water supplies of the United States and ensures that our drinking water is safe and clean. Water poverty affects all aspects of life, including not only health and longevity, but also livelihood and education. Unfortunately, the people of Navajo Nation are no exception.

Many of the residents of Navajo Nation must travel many miles to gather water, the most fortunate of whom typically travel by car. However, a large percentage of these residents live well below the poverty level and can ill afford the cost of gasoline required to travel to gather water. Others must walk several miles — no different from their sub-Saharan counterparts. To make matters worse, the water they gather is often from livestock troughs or unregulated wells, frequently fouled by bacteria and other contaminants.

EPA warning to residents of Navajo Nation
EPA warning to residents of Navajo Nation

Adding insult to injury, much of the water in Navajo Nation is contaminated with uranium and arsenic due to the prevalence of mining that took place in the area during the nuclear arms race. Uranium and radioactive particles have been found in much of the water supply in Navajo Nation, and the rest has been contaminated by coal mining and coal-fired power plants. At this point, basically all of the water of Navajo Nation is contaminated in some way, which has affected the health of the citizens there. Nearly half of the residents have been touched by kidney ailments or cancer. Since the Navajo people now understand that the water in their land is poisonous, they are forced to travel even farther to find safe water. Some of the residents save up their money for gasoline and make the four-hour trek to Flagstaff, Arizona to buy bottled water when it is on sale.

Solving the Navajo Nation Water Crisis

 "Baby Lisa" — photo courtesy of Navajo Water Project
“Baby Lisa” — photo courtesy of Navajo Water Project

Fortunately, the Navajo water crisis is finally receiving the attention it deserves. Navajo Water Project, a subsidiary of DIGDEEP, is the sole water charity dedicated to the Navajo water crisis in the United States, and has a mission in which Tata & Howard firmly believes. Working with the Saint Bonaventure Indian Mission and subsisting on private donations, Navajo Water Project digs wells, installs water storage tanks, and brings in-home plumbing to those suffering from water poverty in Navajo Nation. Most recently, the Navajo Water Project issued a plea for Baby Lisa, a Navajo child born with Microvillus Inclusion Disease. Her illness requires her to have a feeding tube, for which she needs clean water. Without clean water, she could become seriously ill or even die, so Baby Lisa was living in a medical facility over three hours from her family home. The Navajo Water Project petitioned individuals and businesses for $50,000 to bring clean water to Baby Lisa’s home, and this past spring, they surpassed their goal. The Project is now in the process of installing plumbing in the family home.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell signed an agreement in 2015 guaranteeing the water rights of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes in Nevada and ensuring water supplies and facilities for their Duck Valley Reservation. Joining Secretary Jewell in a signing ceremony was Shoshone-Paiute Chairman Lindsey Manning. — photo courtesy of nativenewsonline.net
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell signed an agreement in 2015 guaranteeing the water rights of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes in Nevada and ensuring water supplies and facilities for their Duck Valley Reservation. Joining Secretary Jewell in a signing ceremony was Shoshone-Paiute Chairman Lindsey Manning. — photo courtesy of nativenewsonline.net

In addition to the Navajo Water Project, the Navajo have entered into agreements with the United States government. Since 1978, native Americans have entered into deals with the U.S. Department of the Interior in which they procure funding for their nation’s water supply in exchange for relinquishing some of their water claims to the federal government, states, and private investors. Additional deals are currently underway, including one in Utah that passed in January of this year. The deal secured millions in funding to build water infrastructure such as distribution systems and treatment facilities on Navajo land. And while many Navajo see these deals as the only way to improve their quality of life and support economic growth, others worry that by relinquishing their water rights they are essentially stealing from future Navajo generations who, if climate change progresses as predicted, may find their water supply has run dry.

In Conclusion

maxresdefault-225x300The answer to solving the water crisis of Navajo Nation is not simple. Bringing safe, clean water to the people of Navajo Nation will require both public and private investment. It will also require fair legislation that allows the Navajo to keep rights to water on their land while requiring the federal government to fund the cleanup of the waters that they contaminated. The nation has been in an uproar over the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, in which hundreds of children suffered from lead poisoning from their water supply. However, we should also be outraged at the decades of water poverty and contamination that the people of Navajo Nation have endured. The time has come to address the water crisis in Navajo Nation and to ensure that ALL people living on U.S. soil are afforded the most basic human right to water.Subscribe-to-our-newsletter1

World Water Day 2016 — Better Water, Better Jobs

World Water Day falls on March 22 each year, and serves as a time to celebrate all things water. It is also a time to acknowledge water’s pivotal role in our daily lives, to recognize the global population that still lacks access to adequate water supply and sanitation, and to focus on sustainability so that we can protect our world’s most precious resource. While most of us recognize that water is essential to life, many of us don’t realize that water is just as essential to our economy and is responsible for employing half of the world’s workers, or 1.5 billion people. And while half of the world’s workers are directly employed in water-related sectors, a majority of the other half are also reliant upon water for their jobs. The theme for World Water Day 2016 — Better Water, Better Jobs — reflects this reality.

Fetching-water-statisticsFirst, let’s look at some facts:

  • African_girl_fetching_water_with_pitcher663 million people — or 1 in 9 — don’t have access to safe drinking water.
  • The average American uses about 100 gallons of water a day, which is 10 times more water than the average rural resident in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • In Africa and Asia, women and girls walk an average of 3.5 miles a day carrying water that weighs more than 40 pounds, or the equivalent of carrying two cases of soda.
  • Each day people, mostly women and girls, spend 125 million hours collecting water.
  • 66 children die from diarrhea from water-related disease every hour.
  • Globally, one third of all schools lack access to sanitation and drinkable water.
  • 160 million children suffer from malnutrition, which has lifelong impacts on health, education, and economic potential; 50% of this malnutrition is directly linked to lack of clean water and sanitation.

And thankfully, some really good news:

  • 2.6 billion people have gained access to improved drinking water since 1990.
  • 2.1 billion people have gained access to an improved sanitation facility since 1990.
  • Over 90% of the world’s population now has access to an improved water source.
  • Since 2008, more than $27 million federal dollars have been invested in projects to build up water distribution systems in Navajo Nation, which will will allow about 800 homes to benefit from new pipe systems and improve water quality for about 1,000 homes that already have running water.

Quality and availability of water have a direct effect on peoples’ lives, including workers. Yet millions of people who work in water are not recognized or protected by basic labor rights, and do not have an adequate clean water supply. In fact, over 340,000 of the world’s workers die each year from lack of clean water and sanitation. Many of the world’s workers, including farmers and fishermen, depend wholly on water for their livelihoods. Also, women and girls in developing countries are typically responsible for fetching water, often from miles away, which leaves them no time for education or employment. The adequate quantity and quality of water can significantly change workers’ lives and livelihoods, and can even improve societies and economies.

MaxGilliam_survey_private_dam_LitchfieldCounty_CT_1015Water is also an integral part of our jobs here at Tata & Howard. As a water engineering firm, we strive to improve our water supply and to create a safe, sustainable future for generations to come. As we have recently seen in communities like Flint, Michigan and Sebring, Ohio, unsafe water directly affects the health of both residents and the economy. We accept that it is our diligent duty to provide the most efficient and meticulous engineering service to municipalities and water companies to safeguard our nation’s water supply and the health of residents. We work cohesively as a team to foster innovation and to provide a series of checks and balances, while each and every project on which we work is technically reviewed by a senior engineer not associated with the project.

In addition to our daily work, we actively support numerous water organizations, including Water For People, whose goal is to bring a clean, sustainable drinking water supply to everyone forever, and the Navajo Water Project, which works diligently to bring safe, accessible drinking water to the residents of Navajo Nation. It is our belief that safe water is a basic human right, and through our work and our works, we actively sustain that belief.

matT_DAMON_WATEROn World Water Day, we invite you to join the 2016 campaign to get informed, engaged, and take action. There are many ways to get involved. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s website to learn about water, or make a donation to a reputable water charity. Water For People, Charity: water, Navajo Water Project, and Matt Damon’s water.org are all water charities with superior ratings. You can also contribute on social media by using the hashtags #WaterIsWork and #WorldWaterDay. Together we can help the people of the world to have an adequate supply of safe drinking water, improving the health of workers, the economy, and our environment.Subscribe-to-our-newsletter1