Water Update: After Arsenic Contaminated Their Well, Two Elders Get Help from Running Strong

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At Running Strong for American Indian Youth®, for decades we have been providing running water to thousands of households on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, first by the truckload, then by digging deep water wells and now by connecting homes to the main water service line which runs through the reservation.

In some cases, families have been relying on getting their water from nearby streams and springs.

Recently, a household comprised of two elders, ages 80 and 65, living in a mobile home in the Cuny Table area who had been relying on a spring for all their daily needs,  had their water tested which determined that it contained unsafe levels of arsenic in it.

Not having the thousands of dollars it would cost to tap into the Oglala Sioux Rural Water Supply System water line which runs near their property, they were unsure of what to do, or even where to turn for help.

But, learning of Running Strong’s Mni Wiconi (Water is Life) water line connection program through word-of-mouth, they contacted our water coordinator, Ken Lone Elk at our field office on the reservation, Tipi Waste Un Zanipi (Wellness Through A Good Home), for assistance.

And it wasn’t long after that they received the help they needed.

Within a matter of days, our Lakota-owned contractor, Badlands Enterprises, showed up at their home with a backhoe and trencher to install 80 feet of water line, an outdoor hydrant, and what is known as a freezerless riser to ensure year-round use even during the coldest days of winter, at a cost of just over $5,000.

In addition, our contractor ran a water line into their home, which has indoor plumbing, and they have requested to have a septic system installed on their property so eventually they will be able to use their indoor fixtures to use their kitchen sink, take showers and flush toilets.

Thanks to the supporters of Running Strong for American Indian Youth®, this year our goal is to connect 80 families to the water line so they will no longer have to fetch water from nearby neighbors’ homes, drive miles to a community water source, or, as in the case of these two elders, risk their health by drinking water contaminated with impurities, such as arsenic.

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