217 Using Satellite-Derived Precipitation Measurements to Assess Water Resources on the Navajo Indian Reservation

Monday, 8 January 2018
Exhibit Hall 3 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Ansley Long, Univ. of Georgia, Athens, GA; and J. M. Shepherd

The Navajo Indian reservation spans roughly 27,500 square miles of desert landscape in Northern Arizona, Southeastern Utah, and Northwestern New Mexico. The reservation is home to nearly 174,000 people, but only 60% of families have access to clean running water. High rates of poverty and complicated water rights have left many members of the tribe with no choice but to drive several miles a day to obtain clean water for their households or rely on others to deliver their water by truck. Rainwater harvesting is believed to be a potential solution for the current water scarcity crisis on the Navajo Reservation. Although rainwater can be contaminated with bacteria and other atmospheric pollutants, it can be treated using cost-effective filtration methods and water can be stored on site for future use. Satellite-derived precipitation measurements are crucial for determining optimal locations for rainwater harvesting in arid regions. Through the establishment of areas that receive higher amounts of precipitation on the Navajo Indian Reservation, large scale rainwater harvesting operations could be conducted to provide increased access to clean water for the tribe. By utilizing the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) satellite, the spatial distribution of rainfall on the reservation is assessed. Using this information from satellite precipitation measurements results in the determination of optimal locations for rainwater harvesting on tribal land. This data will also allow the Navajo to remain self-sufficient and autonomous as a sovereign nation and provide aid for making more informed decisions in their water management operations.
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