It’s almost 2020, and 2 million Americans still don’t have running water
SWEETWATER, Navajo Nation — On a good day, when the breeze is up and Apache County’s rutted red-clay roads are passable, Legena Wagner’s family drives 45 minutes to fill water containers at a windmill pump. In the days that follow, Wagner dispenses their contents sparingly: half a cup for her 5-year-old to brush his teeth; a couple of pints, well heated, to wash dishes in the decorative enamel bowl on her kitchen table; and about 10 gallons, measured out to last a week, for bathing.
“Running water, it would be such a luxury,” Wagner said, pausing to describe how different her life would be if she didn’t have to trek outside, past the empty plastic buckets and the rootling pigs, to the outhouse with its majestic views across northeast Arizona’s snow-skimmed plateaus.
Wagner is one of more than 2 million Americans who do not have running water and sanitation, according to “Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States.” The report, released by two national nonprofit organizations last month, outlines stark, race-based inequalities: Native American households are 19 times more likely than white households to lack indoor plumbing; blacks and Latinos are twice as likely.
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