**UPDATE** On Tuesday, January 11, 2010, Navajo Division of Transportation graders began grading roads to prepare for the delivery of safe drinking water. On Friday, Janury 15, 2010 the Commission on Emergency Management signed a historic Declaration of Public Health State of Emergency for Black Falls/Box Springs/Grand Falls. President Joe Shirley, Jr. is expected to sign the Declaration quickly.
Forgotten People just completed a water project which addresses the need for access to safe drinking water for 12 homes located in the Black Falls community within the Navajo Nation. The homes do not have access to piped water, and the public water sources within a 10 mile radius are unsafe due to uranium and other contaminants. The families currently obtain their water either from unsafe sources or by hauling it for long distances.
Click here for copy of US EPA grant award letter.
Click here for a powerpoint presentation concerning The Black Falls Water Project NN EPA award
Click here for project specifications: Residential Water System with Permanent Elevated Tank.
Click here for project specifications: Residential Water System with Temporary Storage Tank.
Click here for an interactive map showing the homes, the water supplies, and a few of the abandoned uranium mines in the area.
Click here for a key to the map.
Click here for Master’s Thesis based on the Black Falls Water Project.
Click here for Forgotten People Presentation at the Navajo Nation EPA Award Ceremony concerning The Black Falls Water Project.
Click here for Policy Report: The Black Falls Water Project: Policy Findings and Recommendations
Click here for Navajo Nation Superfund Site, April 2009 – As an interim measure, the EPA has been providing bottled drinking water to two families in a very remote area of Black Falls who have relied on unregulated wells contaminated with uranium.
The proposed solution is unique in that the directly affected people have devised their own solution based on a cooperative, community-based effort. They are leveraging a small amount of external funding with their own labor and management skills. The effort is being coordinated by Forgotten People, a community based organization representing communities formerly subject to the Bennett Freeze.Funding for the initial planning was provided under a grant from the US EPA, and construction funding is being provided by several tribal and federal agencies.
The initial project has two components. The first is the system for storing and distributing water within the homes. The second component is the provision of water to these homes, which involves securing a safe supply and developing a sustainable cost-effective program for delivering the water.This project will be completed in February, 2009.
The second phase adds a full sanitation system, including underground water storage, composting toilets, solar hot water, showers, and grey-water recycling. The systems will be constructed as modular units to be attached to the current homes.These systems are currently being designed, and the timetable for deployment has not been established.
Success in Black Falls may be replicated to solve similar issues throughout the western Navajo Nation and in other regions of the US.At the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, 2004, the EPA signed the agreement and set as its targets the reduction of American Indian and Native Alaskan households without sanitation and access to safe drinking water by 50% by 2015. The largest concentration of these homes is on the Navajo Nation. The problems are difficult to solve, as the homes are in remote locations where it is not practical to run water pipelines or electric lines. Ground water is contaminated, so that shallow wells are not an option.Income levels are some of the lowest in the US, which adds difficulties.The solutions being created in Black Falls may become the template for other communities.
Other development projects that FP will undertake will utilize the same approach as taken with the water project, community participation and ownership.This unique approach was instrumental in achieving both project success and sustainability.
Educational outreach resulted in finding 100 families still drinking uranium and arsenic contaminated water in a region where local sources are contaminated by uranium, arsenic and other pathogens. A Declaration of Emergency/Public Health Emergency was declared by Leupp Chapter and the Western Navajo Agency Council consisting of all the Chapters in the western portion of the Navajo Nation. We are currently working with our partners, the Chief of Staff of the Navajo Nation, and the Department of Emergency Management to have the Navajo Nation declare a State of Emergency/Public Health Emergency in Black Falls/Box Springs/Grand Falls and identify funding for safe drinking water facilities to prepare for the first delivery of safe drinking water by a US EPA funded water hauling truck.