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Grady’s household includes another adult and five children, the eldest 15, the youngest 4, all living together in a mobile home on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation – until recently without running water.
Thanks to the supporters of Running Strong, Grady and his family have all the running water they need for drinking, cooking, bathing and washing, all through a hydrant in their yard connected to the main water service line which runs about 150 feet from their home.
After the water line to his home broke several months ago, Grady had to travel to the nearest Oglala Sioux Rural Water Supply System (OSRWSS) water hydrant and fill up containers and bring them back home on a daily basis.
Without the supporters of Running Strong’s Mni Wiconi (Water is Life) program, he would still be fetching water today as the cost of having a new line installed ($5,816.37) was financially out of reach (the broken line was old and would have likely failed again soon if repaired).
But Grady and his family are the lucky ones.
Running Strong water coordinator Ken Lone Elk knows of dozens of families just like Grady’s who are in need of water to their homes… and like Grady are grateful just to have a hydrant in their yard saving them the burdensome chore of driving miles to fetch water.
The average cost to connect a home to the water line which runs through the reservation is $7,500, which may be financially out of reach for families.
Since the beginning of a pilot program in 2015, Running Strong has been steadily connecting as many families as feasible to the water line for the past three years.
While this year’s season is getting a late start due to severe flooding on Pine Ridge this spring, Ken has several families on his “to do” list between now and late fall when the ground freezes and the program stops until next spring.
These projects are “shovel ready” meaning all the required paperwork is completed and the applications are approved. With one project down, we have dozens more we hope to complete this summer, thanks to the supporters of Running Strong for American Indian Youth® who are helping to support the Mni Wiconi water project.