In the fall 2008, an ASD member and contributor to WFH by the name of Helga Nehl forwarded to me a letter of solicitation received by her from the St. Bonaventure Indian Mission and School, which does aid projects on the Eastern Navajo (also known as Dine) Reservation in New Mexico, in the driest and poorest county in the US. One of their projects is the regular delivery of potable water to the inhabitants of this reservation. You can see more yourself by going to www.stbonaventuremision.org.
I spoke on the phone with a representative of this organization, a private Catholic aid and relief agency. She assured me that even though this is a sectarian organization, aid is given regardless of creed. In fact, some ninety percent of the beneficiaries are non-Catholic. For over twenty years, mission workers have delivered fresh water on a bi-weekly basis to over 100 dwellings, enabling these people to stay on their land. The Mission also purchases barrels for safe, sanity storage of drinking water for people who need them. The water truck logs over 7,000 miles on rough roads each month, delivering over one million gallons of water.
My contact, Libby Jennings, explained why water delivery is the best solution to the water problem here:
1 - The groundwater is typically very deep and the cost of drilling exorbitantly expensive, due primarily to the difficulty of getting drilling equipment into this remote location over rough roads, and beyond the means of these people.
2 - There is very little electricity to pump water should one be drilled.
3 - Drilling one common well is not practical because the area is sparsely populated and there are great distances between houses.
4 - Many of the people do not have cars/trucks or vehicles suitable for transporting water in barrels.
5 - Some of the people are too elderly or infirm to be hauling water.
6 - There is too little rainfall to make rainwater harvesting practical.
At my request, Ms. Jennings computed the general costs of the water delivery program on an annual basis, though some costs were not factored in, such as initial well drilling costs (the source well is at their facilities in the town of Thoreau on the southern edge of the reservation), wear and tear on the pump, and the cost of state-required chlorination. The figure for cost of delivery for one week came to $818.
Based on this information, I recommended to the WFH Committee that we fund two weeks worth of water delivery ($1,636) with the option of making it an annual grant. Ms. Jennings assured me that our donation would be applied exactly to the purpose we designate. We have repeated this donation every year since.
Below you will find the letter which was received from St. Bonaventure Indian Mission and School of Thoreau, NM, at the ASD office on December 8th, 2008, thanking us for our donation of $1,636 for two weeks of water delivery on the Eastern Navajo Reservation.
November 24, 2008
Mr. Steven G. Herbert
Secretary, WFH Fund
The American Society of Dowsers
P.O. Box 24
Danville, VT 05825
Dear Mr. Herbert,
I would like the thank The American Society of Dowsers' Water for Humanity Fund, for your most generous donation to St. Bonaventure Indian Mission and School's water delivery program. Your grant of $1,636.00 to cover the cost of two weeks of water delivery to Navajo clients in need is enthusiastically welcomed and greatly appreciated.
As discussed with you earlier this year, Mr. Herbert, the grant is restricted for use in the water delivery program only. The water delivery program is based on an application process that takes into account location, lack of services in the area, access to transportation for water hauling, and age and health of clients. I want to assure the Fund members that water delivery, and all other Mission services, are not contingent on religious affiliation. The question is never asked, not do we care. The Mission's only concern is the delivery of clean, potable water to those who have no other means of accessing it.
I am thrilled that the committee is considering making its grant an annual event. With falling fuel prices, the Mission feels confident in projecting lower per week delivery costs in the months to come. If you are interested in continuing your grant to the water program, I urge you to contact me again next summer or fall to discuss current program costs. We are always striving to stretch our dollars as far as possible and always seeking ways to lower costs without diminishing service to those who so desperately need water.
Again, our thanks to The American Society of Dowsers' Water for Humanity Fund for caring so deeply about those who do not have access to potable water. We appreciate your grant to help sustain the Mission's water delivery program.