The International Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Foundation’s (IWSH) latest Community Plumbing Challenge (CPC) concluded Friday, with a team of volunteer tradespeople from all over the United States and Australia converging on a remote mountainous region on the Arizona-Utah border to bring clean, running water and safe wastewater disposal to a series of homes on a Navajo reservation.
Presented in collaboration with the award-winning DigDeep Navajo Water Project, CPC Navajo Mountain facilitated the work of volunteers who connected a water supply for each house from tanks through a pump and wastewater system, and installed a gas tankless hot water system in each house. A bathroom was designed and installed in 83-year-old Betty Benally’s house, and Lillie Manygoats, 84, had her 20-year-old home’s bathroom and kitchen connected to a water and plumbing system for the first time. A septic tank was installed and a leach field was dug at each of their homes.
Lillie Benally, her husband, and two children live with her disabled mother, Betty, for whom Lillie serves as caregiver. Before the CPC, helping bathe her mother involved building a fire to heat the water, bringing in a little tub, and then having to take everything out when it was over. The new bathroom includes a bathtub with nearby grab handle and plenty of space for both of them.
“It’s going to be much easier here, where the water just drains and you don’t have to worry about taking it out, and just have the water running instead of having to bring the water in,” Benally said. “I think that’s a lot less stress just for me to get her ready for the day. So it’s going to be much easier.”
Among the volunteers was United Association Local 469 (Phoenix) member Gary Nez, who grew up under similar circumstances on a nearby Navajo reservation.
“I grew up without running water and electricity, but when you see a family like this with young kids around, they get to see the water come through the faucet, and I’m waiting for that,” he said shortly before completion. “To have the opportunity to volunteer and contribute back to my people like this, and to be accountable for all the things that I’ve installed, it’s a blessing.”
The event benefited from the support of such prominent organizations as LIXIL, Ferguson, Milwaukee Tool, WinSupply, Reliance Worldwide Corporation (RWC), and the Piping Industry Progress & Education (P.I.P.E.) Trust Fund/NITC. Additionally, four United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the United States, Canada (UA) chapters — Local 78 in Los Angeles; Local 400 in Kaukauna, Wisconsin; Local 412 in New Mexico and El Paso, Texas; and Local 469 in Phoenix — and Healthabitat sent members and/or made financial contributions.
“It is a privilege to once again work among the Navajo people,” said Dan Daniels, chairman of the IWSH Board of Trustees. “The goal and mission of IWSH is to provide access to water and sanitation to those who need it most. Regardless of whether that’s around the world or in our own backyard, we are going to do our very best to ensure people have access to this fundamental human right. Industry, from skilled trades to manufacturers, brings incredible value and has an important role to play in finding sustainable solutions.”
Companies or organizations wishing to support future editions of the international CPC program are encouraged to get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.