The Technical Assistance and Training (TAT) Grant Program has been established to assist communities with water or wastewater systems through free technical assistance and/or training provided by the grant recipients. Qualified private non-profit organizations receive TAT grant funds to identify and evaluate solutions to water and waste disposal problems in rural areas, assist applicants in preparing applications for water and waste grants made at the State level offices, and improve operation and maintenance of existing water and waste disposal facilities in rural areas.
Drinking water systems are basic and vital to both health and economic development. With dependable water facilities, rural communities can attract families and businesses that will invest in the community and improve the quality of life for all residents. Without dependable water facilities, the communities cannot sustain economic development.
In 2014 and 2015, the STAR (Services to All Resources) School awarded The Technical Assistance and Training (TAT) Grant Program (TAT-Year 1, TAT-Year 2, and TAT-Year 3) to provide the most needed technical assistance and training to improve water and wastewater services and infrastructures in Navajo Nation with primary focus on the proactive communities/Chapters, such as Leupp, Tolani Lake, and Bird Springs, as well as Bennett Freeze Area including several Chapters around Tuba City, AZ.
Most importantly, this program was specifically designed to focus on developing local capacity in order to provide continued water and wastewater education, technical assistance, and training after the completion of the program. This program will be directly tied to a new vocational school and/or high school curriculum, which is currently planned for both adults and students, as an important augment.
During TAT-Year 1, a Demonstration Solar Powered Nano-filtration Water Treatment System was developed to treat brackish water. The unit was successfully installed and it is currently operating at STAR School. Hands on training was also provided.
The project team has completed a Mobile Demonstration Solar Powered Nano-filtration Water Treatment System (Unit 2) inside a school bus. The unit was completed January 2018.
The overarching goals of this program are:
Specific objectives/purposes are:
A water and wastewater survey questionnaire was conducted several times in meetings with local people to better understand the water needs in Navajo Nation.
These are the main findings:
A total of 26 people from Navajo Nation were surveyed, 50% were females and 50% males. All of them own their property and have lived in the area for generations. About 38% of them stated that they have lived at the same location for less than 20years, ~39% have lived there for more than 20 year but less than 40 years, and ~ 23% have lived at one location for more than 50 years.
Most of the households (54%) are composed by 3-4 adults; 23% by 1-2 adults; 15% by 5-6 adults; and 8% by more than 6 adults. About 65% of the households reported to live with children (<18 years of age), while in 35% of them are adults only.
Most of the wells are owned by the community. About 58% of the households reported to haul water from community wells; 15% stated to use community/municipal water supply; 15% rely well that only provides water to their household; and the remaining 12% relay on wells that supplies water to multiple households. About 60% of the people surveyed hauls water from less than 10 miles distance.
Most of the households (65%) reported to have reliable water supply year round and adequate supply though all the seasons, while the remaining 35% reported having seasonal water supply with inadequate provision, especially during summer months.
Farming activities are reduced to gardening and livestock. According to the survey, 65% of the community relies on community wells to sustain these farming activities. The remaining rely on other water sources such as rain water harvesting or community/municipal water to supply their farming activities. The water supply for farming is considered reliable year round by 58% of the people interviewed, while 42% considered the supply seasonal.
About 38% of the people surveyed stated gravity is the main source of power to haul water, while ~23% do not know which power source is utilized in their households. Electric and solar pumps are used by 19% and 12% of the interviewed. About 4% used windmills as power source, while the rest reported to use diesel fuel or natural gas pump.
More than 70% of the people surveyed did not know any physical characteristics of their water wells. Only 27% believe to know either the depth/age or depth water level of wells they obtain the water from.
When people were asked about the quality of the water supply, most of the surveyed did not know what to answer. Actually, about 70% were not sure if their water supply had ever been tested and about 27% reported their water supply had been tested at least once a year. The remaining only knew that the water had been tested sometime in the past. The majority of the people interviewed stated to be interested in water quality over water quantity. The main issues they would like to address are: improve their water source; develop water treatments to improve water quality; and improve their water delivery systems.
Finally, the community stated they are interested in learning more about water quality testing (29%); water conservation (32%); rain water harvesting (18%); and personal water treatment options (21%).