The Water Lady lives in Northern New Mexico, USA. Every day she stops at the St. Bonaventure Indian Mission and fills a bright yellow 3,500-gallon tanker truck with water. Darlene Arviso, age 50, has a long braid of black hair streaked with gray, and she speaks softly, in short sentences, her eyes fixed on the road as she drives. “You can’t drink that water,” she says, “It’s only for animals.” She then begins her long journey, carrying the water through the parched countryside between mesas and through arroyos on rough dirt roads. This tiny woman’s mission is to deliver water to 250 families who live in the Four Corners region of New Mexico. Most days, she can reach only 10 or 12 of them. That means that the 400 gallons of water each household receives must last a month. Her families live on roughly seven gallons per day, while the average American uses 80 to 100. They have no water because Uranium mining in the region has poisoned their wells with radioactive waste. Nearly 40 percent of the estimated 173,000 Navajos living on the reservation lack access to running water. Lindsey Johnson, 78, a Smith Lake elder, grew up hauling water from a local livestock pond. Today, she lives in a two-bedroom trailer with eight family members – still with no running water. The water Darlene delivers to her is kept in buckets and is reused until there is more. Lindsey’s grandchildren attend a school that has “shower days” for the students. Darlene, the Water Lady continues her daily trips to see her families and deliver water, “liquid gold”, to all.
Water Lady began her touring at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland in 2016. She toured Europe and the United States for the following 2 years.