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Next Generation: Water with Sarah Diringer, PhD, Jonathan Nez & Emma Robbins

Key leaders discuss solving the water crisis at this pivotal moment on Tuesday, Oct. 19 (Video: The Washington Post)

More than two million people living in the United States lack access to clean drinking water, including an estimated 1 in 10 Native Americans. Extreme weather events are likely to exacerbate existing issues with the water infrastructure, and poor communities may feel the effects of climate change on access to clean water first. Washington Post Live will convene key Native American leaders who are working alongside the next generation of activists to help solve this water crisis at this pivotal moment. We will also hear from prominent young women involved in the water justice movement who are carrying on the fight for safe drinking water and sanitation across North America.

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“I’m the President of the Navajo Nation… Believe it or not, my family where I live right now in Shonto, Arizona do not have running water… Throughout this pandemic… my family members have been hauling water 30 miles, so 60 miles round trip… almost daily.” (Video: Washington Post Live)
“When we bring water to our homes, we are taught to give water to our animals… also for the farms… Then we utilize it for drinking water. Whatever’s left over… if any, is used for personal hygiene… The lack of water perpetuated the spread of COVID-19 on the Navajo Nation.” (Video: Washington Post Live)
“We are hoping the Build Back Better initiative will cross the finish line… much of that financial support it to help out with climate change… Now the states are discussing limiting the water that is being used in the Southwest… But yet we’re still… wanting to get a seat at the table.” (Video: Washington Post Live)
“There are heavy metals, uranium and arsenic, those are two very large causes of cancer. And that’s a huge issue because it’s not something that’s only happened in the past decade, it’s something that’s been going on forever…. Since these mines existed… The answer to that is to clean up these mines and make sure this isn’t going to perpetuate.” (Video: Washington Post Live)
“People will prioritize where they get their water from, and… prioritize how the water is used. Some people have livestock and that’s very important to them… In addition to that, people are getting water from livestock wells which are not considered potable or safe.” (Video: Washington Post Live)
“Any of the challenges that we’re facing now are going to continue to get worse as the climate changes…. Anything we do now, we need to think bigger because these challenges are only going to get bigger.” (Video: Washington Post Live)

Sarah Diringer, PhD

Provided by Pisces Foundation.

Sarah is a program officer for the Water Program at the Pisces Foundation advancing One Water — an integrated approach to water management centered around sustainability and equity. Sarah is focused on amplifying solutions that provide clean and abundant water to ensure people and nature can thrive.

Throughout her career, Sarah has focused on ensuring that communities have access to the knowledge and tools they need to obtain clean water and a healthy environment. Prior to joining Pisces, Sarah worked as a Senior Researcher at the Pacific Institute, a non-profit research institute advancing water sustainability and resilience. At the Pacific Institute, Sarah’s work focused on scaling water management strategies that equitably achieve multiple benefits for communities and the environment.

Through her doctoral work at Duke University, Sarah joined a team of global health researchers and local communities in Peru to examine and mitigate the impacts of small-scale gold mining and river pollution.

Sarah holds a Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from Duke University and a B.S. in environmental science from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). In her free time, Sarah’s love of nature extends to hiking, camping, and backpacking trips. When she’s not outdoors, you can catch her playing the trombone!

Jonathan Nez

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez was born in Tuba City, Arizona and raised in Shonto, Arizona on the Navajo Nation. He began his current term as President of the Navajo Nation on January 15, 2019 along with Vice President Myron Lizer. Since taking office, the Nez-Lizer Administration continues to advocate and support the priorities of the Navajo people, based on numerous meetings that took place in over 70 Navajo communities across the Navajo Nation.

President Nez has two children with his wife, Phefelia Nez. He is the son of John H. Nez and Mabel H. Nez. His grandfather, H.T. Donald, was the former Navajo Nation Council Delegate for Shonto Chapter, and his grandmother was Mae Donald from Shonto.

President Nez is of the Áshįįhí Clan (Salt People) and born for the Ta’neeszahnii Clan (Tangle clan). His maternal grandfather’s clan is Tódích’íi’nii Clan (Bitter Water Clan) and his paternal grandfather’s clan is the Táchii’nii Clan (Red-Running-Into-The-Water Clan).

Before his presidency, he served as Vice President of the Navajo Nation from 2015 to January 2019. He has also served as the Shonto Chapter Vice President, as a member of the Navajo Nation Council representing the chapters of Shonto, Oljato, Tsah Bi Kin and Navajo Mountain, and as a member of the Navajo County Board of Supervisors for District 1 in Arizona.

President Nez holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science and a Masters of Public Administration, both from Northern Arizona University.

Emma Robbins

Provided by DigDeep.

Emma Robbins is the Executive Director of DigDeep’s Navajo Water Project, which brings clean running water inside the homes of Navajo families living across Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. This is the first regional project of DigDeep, a human rights nonprofit working to ensure that every American has taps and toilets inside the home. Approximately 30% of families on the Navajo Nation don’t have clean running water inside their homes. Native American households are 19x more likely to live without indoor plumbing than White households, according to the ‘Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States’ Report by DigDeep and the US Water Alliance. Emma Robbins joined DigDeep after growing up on the reservation in an area with a high concentration of water poverty. She is a Diné artist, and uses her work to raise awareness about the need for clean water across all Native Nations. She is also an Aspen Institute Healthy Communities Fellow. She splits her time between the Navajo Nation and Los Angeles, CA. To date, the Navajo Water Project has installed running water in approximately 300 homes, and is continuing their work to ensure families on the Navajo Nation have access to safe water for drinking and hygiene by delivering bottled and trucked water to homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Content from the Walton Family Foundation

The following content is produced and paid for by a Washington Post Live event sponsor. The Washington Post newsroom is not involved in the production of this content.

(Video: Washington Post Live)

Moira Mcdonald

Moira is director of the Environment Program at the Walton Family Foundation. For the last 11 years, she led the foundation’s Mississippi River and coastal initiatives. Moira has more than 20 years’ experience in wetlands and freshwater conservation and previously managed Mississippi River and Great Lakes programs at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Moira received her undergraduate degree in environmental science and Russian studies from Brown University and has a master’s and a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Minnesota.

Moderated by Elise Labott

Elise Labott is a leading journalist covering foreign US foreign policy and international issues. Elise is a columnist at Foreign Policy magazine and before that was CNN’s Global Affairs Correspondent. She has reported from more than 80 countries, traveled the world with seven secretaries of state and has interviewed many world leaders and newsmakers. Elise is the founder of Twopoint.o Media, a digital media platform that aims to engage, inform and inspire citizens to solve today’s most pressing global challenges, and an adjunct professor at American University’s School of International Service. She is a contributor to Politico, provides commentary for MSNBC, NPR, BBC and several other broadcast outlets and is a sought-after interviewer and moderator. Elise also serves as a global ambassador for Vital Voices, an organization that empowers female entrepreneurs around the world and is on the advisory committee of Global Kids DC, a program which introduces high school students in underserved communities to international affairs. Prior to joining CNN, Elise covered the UN for ABC News and also reported on diplomatic and foreign policy issues for Agence France-Presse and other publications. Elise is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned a master’s degree from the New School for Social Research.