Water Sustainability in Indian Country

Water Sustainability in Indian Country

Through the Tribal Resilience Initiative, the Haury Program supports projects and people who offer the most powerful, culturally appropriate, innovative, and effective means of addressing water access and quality issues facing the Navajo Nation.

Although the work done amidst the COVID-19 crisis addresses immediate needs, it also seeks to use the crisis as a chance to identify more fundamental issues and effect systemic change.

The Tribal Resilience Initiative encourages also partnerships with other researchers and funders to find ways for the UArizona/Navajo Nation outreach model to be adapted to related water sustainability work in other locations and by other partners.

Some projects funded by the Haury Tribal Resilience Initiative

Air to Water Technology Demo Site

The goal of the pilot study was to test the effectiveness of the SOURCE Hydro-Panel system installed at the STAR School Campus in Flagstaff, Arizona. The testing included water production and the overall performance of the system including environmental, economic, and carbon offsets. The average production of a system is 1.47 gallons per week at an estimated cost of $0.72/gallon which is lower than the market price for bottled water.

The SOURCE system is a promising technology with the potential to provide safe and clean drinking water to rural Native American communities in Arizona. The use of this technology could enable members of the community to continue the promotion of self-resilience and reliance. Learn more about the project at AATECHSOLAR 

Water Bus - Water Treatment System

The Water Box is a 100% automatic solar-powered off-grid water filtration system. The system reduces contaminants in drinking water to levels below the U.S. EPA's Primary and Secondary Drinking Water Standards and has received a patent for its commercialization. The Water Box can provide clean and safe drinking water to small communities by generating 500-1000 gallons of water per day, and it is easy to install at any groundwater well site.

APT and STAR School have successfully tested the system in the Navajo Nation during the last five years. In September 2020, the team installed a Water Box on a retired school bus, also known as the Water Bus, in the Shipaulovi Village, Hopi Tribe. This rapid relief effort significantly reduced the community's concerns of elevated arsenic concentration and other contaminants. The project leaders demonstrated the water filtration system and provided hands-on training and education related to the system's operation and management.

The Water Bus is back at the STAR School in Flagstaff, Arizona, and it's ready to help provide water filtration services to other communities.

Off-Grid Water Purification Units in Navajo Nation

The project aims to create a pathway for safe water access to communities with no running water and electricity. The team leaders are currently building two off-grid mobile water purification test units and working on deepening their partnerships with Navajo Nation agencies, including the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA), the Indian Health Service (IHS) Sanitation Facilities Construction Program, and three Chapter Houses in the Navajo Nation, including Navajo Mountain Chapter, Utah, Dilkon, Navajo Nation, Arizona, and Thoreau, New Mexico.

The project includes the use of pressure-driven desalination methods, nanofiltration (NF), and reverse osmosis (RO) to treat brackish waters such as those on the Navajo Nation while producing high-quality water. Solar panels will power the system and Dig Deep will assist the team in installing the units and personnel and community members' training to operate and maintain them. Learn more about the solar membrane desalination process.

Navajo Safe Water Project

The Navajo Safe Water Project is a decision-making tool that aims to identify COVID-19 high-risk areas in the Navajo Nation. The project includes compiling information to create a map that combines water quality, water infrastructure, health, and socio-economic data to identify areas on the Navajo Nation that are most at risk for a COVID-19 spike due to lack of access to water, food, and energy. Led by the UArizona, the project team integrates water, health, and environmental health experts from Northern Arizona University, University of New Mexico, Montana State University, and the University of California.

The team leaders reached agreements with the Navajo Chapters for the use of COVID-19 and water infrastructure data. Access to the Navajo Safe Water Project website here