PO Box 100, St. Michaels, AZ 86511, US

(928) 871 2812

St Michaels Association for Special Education

Ya'at'teeh (Greetings) from St. Michaels Association for Special Education

The Water Project

Where it all started


 Since 2014, our school has been struggling with our water quality and so during the 2013-2014 school year, we made the conscious decision to rely solely on bottled water for drinking and cleaning medical equipment.  In August of 2015, Mary Longest began her year of service as a Mercy Volunteer in the therapy department at SMASE. She quickly became oriented in the school and learned to accept that the school ran almost entirely off bottled water due to the foul smell of the tap water. During her year at the school, Mary became both interested in learning more about the bad-smelling water at the school and concerned about the overall water problem across the Navajo Nation.  After doing some research, she learned that roughly 40% of the reservation does not have access to clean, safe drinking water; her research also lead her to learn about a nonprofit organization called DigDeep and their founder and executive director George McGraw. DigDeep was already working in the area, so in September 2016, Mary reached out to George, sending him a Facebook message expressing her interest and praise. Without intending much to come of it, Mary also wrote about the dirty water situation at SMASE. George’s response came in a matter of hours; he wanted to know more! He requested a phone call so he could learn about the history of the school, the students, the staff, the location, etc.  Soon after that, the team for DigDeep was on campus testing the water. Working tirelessly to find a solution for our beloved school, DigDeep came up with a plan to build a water treatment system specifically for our school. In March of 2017, the project really took off, as DigDeep began crowd funding for our school.  Countless videos and interviews were sent out letting the public know about our school and informing people how they could help. More than $100,000 was raised in just a few months, and our school was even featured on NPR. Eric Stonestreet, Cam on Modern Family, even tweeted about our school’s need. FloWater, a California based water filtration and refill station company heard about the project, and donated 5 point of access water filtration systems that are now installed across campus, providing staff and students with medical grade clean water. Twenty-three time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps also heard about our school, and in early September 2017, partnered with Vice Impact to release a story about our school. DigDeep hopes to complete the water filtration plan and replace plumbing to the school by early November. Currently, engineers are working tirelessly to come up with a design that will fit our needs. As more progresses with this project, we will keep you updated! 


The latest video about our school, featuring our new FloWater Purification filters.

Hear from Jessie as she discusses  the challenges her classroom faces.

Woodie hasn't given up on the fight to bring clean water to Dameon's (our) school. 

We never expected this video we created in just five short hours would launch a campaign raising our school more than $100,000 and help to bring clean water to SMASE.