THOREAU, N.M. — The yellow truck slogged along the red-dirt roads in this impoverished corner of the Navajo reservation last week, its belly full of water — liquid gold in a treasure chest on wheels. The truck’s driver, Darlene Arviso, steered it patiently, up, down and around pockmarks chiseled on the ground by a recent downpour.
“So much rain, but a lot of people with no water,” she mumbled, angling toward the entrance of a mud-splashed hogan, the traditional Navajo hut that was the first stop on her delivery route that day.
Her job is simple: She brings clean water to people who have none of it at home. One-third of the roughly 50,000 households on the Navajo reservation face this problem, one of the highest concentrations of water-poor homes in the country. A multiyear drought has only made it worse.