The "water lady's" big yellow truck is a refreshing sight at the Navajo Nation.
Darlene Arviso, known as "the water lady," delivers water five days a week to communities without plumbing and clean water on the Navajo reservation surrounding Thoreau, New Mexico, Navajo Times reported. She totes over 3,000 gallons of water in her truck, traveling 75 miles and visiting about a dozen families every day.
“I enjoy my job,” Arviso told the news site. “I like what I’m doing because I’m helping my people.”
Arviso grew up on the water-poor Navajo reservation, where about one-third of the 50,000 households are without clean water, the New York Times reported, with a recent drought only furthering the problem. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the average American uses 80-100 gallons of water a day, whereas, Navajo families survive on just 7 gallons. Most families have to travel far distances to get clean water, but do not have the means nor transportation, so Arviso delivers it directly to them.
The "water lady" visits about 250 homes a month, NPR reported, in a truck owned by the St. Bonaventure Indian Mission, which has provided families in the area with water for about three decades. Using water from an on-site well at the Mission, Arviso loads up the truck and then fills whatever families have to hold the precious liquid, including buckets, jars, barrels or used plastic bottles.
The simple resource feels like a gift to many.
"You know what we do? 'The water truck's coming! Get the buckets ready!'” Navajo member Georgianna Johnson said to NPR. “We get all happy. Today's the day I'm going to take a bath.”
A nonprofit called DigDeep Water is currently helping the St. Bonaventure Indian Mission build a $500,000 well to help Arviso reach more families, CBS News reported. But the project, being funded exclusively off donations, will take time, and the Navajo Nation still needs the "water lady," who is both a provider and a friend to the people she serves.
“If I’m not here, who’s going to bring these people their water?” Arviso told The New York Times. "Right now, I’m all they’ve got.”
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