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USDA grant to expand access to clean water in Navajo and Hopi communities

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing over $1 million to expand access to clean water for Navajo and Hopi communities.

In partnership with the nonprofit Painted Desert Demonstration Projects, the grant provides funding for a new 150,000-gallon water tank, as well as expansion of solar power for pumping stations. More points of access will be constructed, as well.

Charlene Fernandez is with the USDA. 

“A lot of the water in that area is not healthy for many of the residents," Fernandez said. "Many of the residents have to haul the water, get in a truck, fill up gallons of water and bring it back to their homes. This will increase the number of points-of-service where it’s going to be closer to the homes.”

Fernandez says COVID-19 compounded issues of water access for rural tribal communities, and they want to be better prepared in the event of another pandemic. The grant is part of a $13 million investment by USDA to expand access to rural water infrastructure across the country.

Nick Sanchez is a senior producer for KJZZ's The Show. He joined the station as an intern during the spring of 2022, where he developed a passion for audio storytelling in the Valley.