While most American families use hundreds of gallons of water liberally to bathe, run dishwashers and water their lawns, over 33% of the homes on Pine Ridge Reservation lack basic water and sewage systems. Many residents must carry (often contaminated) water from the local rivers daily for their personal needs.
Many of the wells and much of the water and land on the Reservation is contaminated with pesticides and other poisons from farming, mining, open dumps, and commercial and government mining operations outside the Reservation. Uranium and arsenic are present in the water supply throughout Pine Ridge. A further source of contamination is buried ordnance and hazardous materials from closed U.S. military bombing ranges on the Reservation.
Scientific studies show that the High Plains/Ogallala Aquifer, which begins underneath the Pine Ridge Reservation, is predicted to run dry within the next twenty years due to commercial interest use and dry land farming in several states south of Pine Ridge Reservation. This critical North American underground water resource is not renewable at anything near the present consumption rate. The recent years of drought have simply accelerated the problem. Studies also show that much of the High Plains/Oglala Aquifer has been contaminated with farming pesticides and commercial, factory, mining, and industrial contaminants in the States of South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Diversifying our water sources, using water more efficiently, and reusing our water is essential to the sustenance of our people. We're working to explore various earthworks techniques to minimize the need for crop irrigation, rainwater harvesting and greywater systems. These healthy small-scale water systems can then be replicated to serve our people as a whole.