Hopi Chairman declares state of emergency

FIRST MESA, Ariz. - Hopi Tribal Chairman LeRoy N. Shingoitewa has signed an Executive Order of Emergency to supply water to the villages of Walpi, Polacca, Sitsomovi and Tewa.

The First Mesa Water Pump for the easternmost water tank on the Hopi Reservation recently became inoperable, affecting the villages and prompting the emergency action.

A series of items have been put in place in order to supply water to the community, including the filling of various water tanks and provision of portable waste facilities. Repairs are also currently being made to the inoperable water pump.

"Upon assessing the damage of the pump and detriment to the village communities, it was vital to declare the First Mesa Villages and community of Polacca in a State of Emergency," said Shingoitewa. "All Tribal departments and programs have been - and continue to - assist in aiding the villages affected. They will continue to do so until the First Mesa Pump is fully operational."

Water currently available to the First Mesa community includes four water tanks which are being driven throughout the community via trucks and trailers, allowing residents to refill their water buckets and containers. Residents can also haul water from Walpi Housing Units No. 7 and No. 67, and the Tribal Emergency Services Program purchased one-gallon containers that have also been distributed to First Mesa community residents who without water. Seventeen regular and five fully-accessible portable waste facilities have also been placed in various locations for community use.

"The inoperable water pump has affected about half of the residents in the Polacca area and we have been working around the clock with contractors from the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) to repair the pump," said Incident Commander Paul Saufkie. "We expect there to be sufficient water supply to residents by Sunday, Oct. 30."

When the pump became inoperable the Hopi Tribe contracted the NTUA to acquire a new pump, which has since been installed. It began pumping water on Oct. 27. In order to pump enough for storage into the East Water Tank, the FM Water System will require 48 hours of pumping in order for there to be sufficient water supply by Oct. 30.

First Mesa residents are being urged to contact FMCV, their village CSA and Saufkie for more detailed information.

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