A student at St. Michael’s Association for Special Education talks about the school’s “dirty, stinky” water.

The students at a special-education school on the Navajo Reservation have grown accustomed to two things: watching a dark, smelly liquid emerge from the faucet when they turned on the tap and hauling bottled water to their campus every day to meet their basic needs.

But late last year, that started to change when a group started to raise money to build a water-treatment facility for the school.

St. Michael’s Association for Special Education claims that the poor plumbing on campus has led to water with high levels of lead and arsenic. The students at the school had grown used to hauling bottled water to their campus on a daily basis. This water was used to clean medical equipment for treating the students as well as basic hygiene.

To end this routine, the school reached out to an Los Angeles-based charity known as DigDeep, which specializes in water crisis projects.

The charity has previously raised funds to help bring running water to families in New Mexico and promoted the “4Liters Challenge.”

George McGraw, DigDeep’s founder and executive director, said a teacher from St. Michael’s first reached out to him after seeing a video of the charity’s work on Facebook.

“She said, ‘Listen, you’re doing great work, but there are kids with special needs at this school,” he said. “Would you be willing to have a conversation to see what’s going on there?”

Soon after that call, in early December, the organization began raising money to build a water treatment facility.

The school serves about 24 students and 30 adults with special needs.

If you would like to help, visit the school’s donation page.

Related: Southwest’s water crisis hitting Navajo people first – and hardest


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