One Relentless Pursuit: 2022 Annual Report

Everyday we solve complex problems, forge new solutions and overcome obstacles. It’s late nights and early mornings. It’s digging through solid rock and forging flooded roads. It’s solving puzzles with new technology, and celebrating the ingenuity and resilience of the people we serve, who work hard every day to bring water to their communities.

is Simple:

Working taps and toilets
for every person in
the United States.
Water Projects

Water Projects

Advance Community Led Solutions by deploying proven strategies to ensure that every person in America has clean, running water forever. (aka taps & toilets for every person in the U.S.)


Develop an Evidence Base by collecting, sharing and leveraging domestic WASH data to inform our progress toward universal access. (aka research on the problem and the solution)


Mobilize America by empowering people to solve this problem in their lifetimes by. (aka spread the word)
Sector Building

Sector Building

Build an Ecosystem of Change by facilitating high-impact collaboration to lead a diverse, sustainable movement. (aka enlist partners to make the work happen faster and more effectively)




The Navajo Water Project is where it all started, and since 2014 we’ve built a dynamic, Indigenous-led team bringing taps and toilets to families across the Navajo Nation. In 2022, we expanded our work to include septic services and piped water connections, and we transitioned out of our pandemic emergency crisis response back to our medium- and long-term WASH solutions.




When we started the Appalachia Water Project, we quickly learned that folks here have a fierce drive to take care of each other. Our clients are resilient problem solvers, and we work every day to bring that same tenacity to our work in Appalachia. Last year our team faced complex challenges and difficult terrain with grace and grit, never giving up on our one relentless pursuit to get clean, running water to Appalachians.

  • 74

    Households prepared for sewer access
  • 2

    Counties served in West Virginia: McDowell & Wyoming
  • 400

    Client surveys collected by field staff this year
  • 90

    Families gained access to piped water
Water for

Water for ELKHORN

In April, we completed Phase II of the Elkhorn project. Work wrapped up with a celebration featuring guest speaker and DigDeep supporter Senator Shelley Moore Capito (WV). Our team was honored to receive an award for completing the project and bringing water to West Virginia families.


Expanding OUR IMPACT

For the first time, our work in Appalachia expanded beyond McDowell County to a new community: Wyoming County. In total, Phase I of the project connected 100 homes to main water lines in Wyoming County.

Sewer Connections for

Sewer Connections for COALWOOD

In just one year the Coalwood Sewer project was launched and completed, with 65 families ready to be connected to sewer lines, helping to prevent straight piping and supporting overall community and environmental health.

Six Households Connected in

Six Households Connected in PREMIER

Before the community of Premier was connected to piped water, they relied on a makeshift line to a mountain spring for water. But over the years that line became more difficult to maintain, especially in the cold winter months. Thanks to our AWP crew, 17 Premier locals no longer have to rely on the spring and now have consistent access to clean, running water.

Septic for

Septic for McDowell County

Our work in Appalachia is about more than running water - it’s about sanitation too. We launched the pilot for septic systems in McDowell County, WV, and we’re on track to install new septic for 35 families thanks to the groundwork laid in 2022.




We first met residents in the Texas colonias while doing research for our Closing the Water Access Gap report released in 2019. In 2022, we officially broke ground on the Colonias Water Project. We turned on the taps for all 72 lots in the Cochran colonia and we’ll do the same in five more Texas colonias over the coming years.

  • 5

    New Colonias slated for water and sewer access in partnership with El Paso County
  • 1

    New model for public-private partnership
  • 72

    household lots with running water for the first time in Cochran
A 30 Year

A 30 Year WAIT

After local residents’ 30 year fight for running water in the Cochran colonia, DigDeep successfully turned on the taps for all 72 neighborhood lots. This project represents the relentless spirit that drives us, and our clients, to never give up on the dream, and right, of water access. 


Partnerships GUIDE OUR WORK

We established a formal partnership with the County of El Paso to assist with bringing water and wastewater solutions to colonias in the area and created momentum that has led to expansion of other services including streetlights, electricity, and paved roads. Our local partner AYUDA supports our team in data-gathering and on-going provision of services; and our partnership with a local utility motivated an engineering firm to provide free in-kind engineering services.



We expanded our Colonias Water Project team in Texas and established clear plans for future project growth and reach. We are currently slated to work in five new colonias in the coming years.


Amplifying VOICES

Our Colonias Water Project team worked closely with press partners to amplify the stories of families in the colonias and their decades long fight for running water; and to tell their own stories of water insecurity and what it means to turn the taps on for their neighbors.

Following the

Following the DATA

We developed a process for identifying and selecting colonias to work with based on data available. Learn more about the region and its struggle for water access through our interactive story map. 



Last year we built out the framework for DigDeep Labs, a new division to house our existing and future research, data and incubation/innovation initiatives. Building off some of our previously established initiatives, like the Decentralized Wastewater Innovation Cohort (DWIC) created alongside other WASH sector organizations in 2021. In 2022, we continued to publicly share our findings and make recommendations to improve domestic water access for good.

  • 4

    key policy opportunities presented at the DWIC Federal Roundtable
  • 1

    Economic Impact Study published
  • 7

    scholarship recipients for the Water Inspiration Fund
  • 5

    regions served by the DWIC


We hosted a virtual roundtable with the EPA and USDA, where our Decentralized Water Innovation Cohort (DWIC) elevated community experiences and recommended 4 key policy opportunities to federal agencies working to close America’s water and sanitation gap. Less than six months later, these recommendations were used by the EPA and USDA to create the Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative, a pilot program providing wastewater initiatives to 11 rural communities, including McDowell County, West Virginia where our Appalachia Water Project is based.

EPA/USDA Pilot to


Too many families across America are still living without taps and toilets at home - that’s why the EPA & USDA announced their joint pilot Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative, which “builds upon the policy recommendations of the nonprofit organization DigDeep, which released a report in 2019 called “Closing the Water Access Gap in the U.S.” — bearing a name similar to that of the new federal program.”

Monitoring &

Monitoring & EVALUATION

Developing robust monitoring & evaluation processes was a key part of building the framework for DigDeep labs. We selected mWater as our WASH data platform to help us collect, store, analyze, and share WASH data within our organization. We also began 2 internal evaluations on Water Hauling and Community Trust to inform and improve our sustainability.

Water is

Water is LIFE FUND

The Water is Life Fund (in partnership with Kohler) supported 10 locally-led projects that provided access to water and sanitation across Navajo Nation.



Our Water Inspiration Fund launched its scholarship program for the Navajo Nation’s first plumbing certification program at Navajo Technical University. The scholarship fund aims to remove financial barriers to participation, ensuring that ALL interested Navajo students have access to the program. The program kicked off with 7 scholarship recipients. 


In June of 2022, we published DRAINING, our first ever Economic Impact Study uncovering the costs of America’s hidden water crisis. And from that research we learned that every year we allow the water access gap to stay open, we’re costing the U.S. economy $8.58 BILLION dollars.

But there’s hope. We also found that for every dollar spent to close the water access gap, the nation sees nearly $5 in

economic returns. Now that’s an incredible return on investment - one that could create nearly $200 BILLION of economic value over the next 50 years.

Click here to see the numbers for yourself and read the first national study to calculate the true cost of allowing millions of Americans to live without running water at home.



Report: Lack of water access costs U.S. $8.6B each year


2.2 million people in America live without access to running water and basic plumbing: report


An interview with George McGraw


California Nonprofit Working To Close $8.5B Water Access Gap In U.S.



We work in places where people used to think running water was impossible. But nothing is impossible when you’re relentless. That’s why one of DigDeep’s organizational pillars is mobilization. It means getting people like YOU across the country involved in the work we do, and in 2022 we all came together and mobilized more than ever before.

  • ~$6k

    dollars fundraised on social media
  • 31

    Global Running Day pledges
  • 487,419

    impressions on social media


We tried something new last summer and got behind Global Running Day. Dozens of people pledged to run, walk, or roll with us last June and helped us get the word out about the water access gap in America and what DigDeep is doing to close it.

The More


On Indigenous People’s Day and for Native American Heritage month, we ran an education campaign dedicated to raising awareness about the lack of water access on the Navajo Nation and the challenges that Indigenous people across our country face. With quotes from our team members, shareable slides, and even a shoutout from Bella Hadid, we educated our supporters in a new, engaging way like never before. 



The Nalgene Water Fund supported DigDeep with a new water bottle design by Diné artist Jason Redhair. A portion of sales from every purchase of this water bottle helps support our work bringing clean, running water to households across the Navajo Nation.  

Straight from

Straight from OUR CEO

Among some of our most impactful press was Upworthy talking with DigDeep Founder and CEO George McGraw about how one donation led to a paradigm shift for DigDeep and helped move us in the right direction - bringing clean, running water to people across the U.S. 



We’re not stopping until every person in the US has a tap and toilet at home. We know you aren’t either. Watch our work happen live and see the impact we can make together.



Families without running water or working toilets live in all fifty states, and DigDeep is expanding our work to help every single one of them. From the mesas of Navajo, to the hollows of Appalachia, to the borderlands of Texas, this year we put an emphasis on our one relentless pursuit - to get clean, running water to every person in America in our lifetime.

With your support, our One Relentless Pursuit campaign raised $2.3 million. Those funds will ensure that hundreds of families across the country can bathe their children, wash their hands, cook healthy meals, and stay hydrated on hot summer days for years to come. The work isn’t easy, but it’s worth it, and with your help we’re making a difference, one tap at a time.


Uniting the
WASH Sector

In 2022, we formalized our sector-building department. This move allowed us to focus on our work in policy advocacy and build a first-of-its-kind domestic Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) database. Last year, members of the domestic WASH sector came together for the first time to discuss water access, and we made sure that members of impacted communities had a seat at that table - because those closest to the problem are often closest to the solution.

  • 15

    Organizations committed to building a domestic WASH sector with DigDeep
  • 1

    Piece of legislation introduced, the WASH Act of 2022
  • 159

    Partners in our open-source U.S. WASH sector database
  • 30

    Meetings with government, including Members of Congress, the White House, and federal agencies
Laying the


DigDeep, in partnership with Water for People, hosted the first ever WASH Sector Convening in Washington, DC. For the first time, we gathered water-focused nonprofits, technology companies, utilities, associations, advocacy groups, and research institutions to discuss the US’s water and wastewater crisis and how to address it collectively.

Pushing for

Pushing for CHANGE

We led conversations with various government agencies, including the EPA, Department of Agriculture, Department of Transportation, Department of Health and Human Resources, to inform and educate government leaders on the 2M+ people living without water or sanitation in the U.S. We also met with staff from the Department of the Interior to discuss funding allotted in the Inflation Reduction Act for drinking water projects; our suggestions were formalized in a letter addressed to the Bureau of Reclamation. 

Briefing the

Briefing the WHITE HOUSE

We briefed members of the White House Council on Native American Affairs' Health Committee on key three subjects: Economic Impact Study Draining, the state of Indigenous water insecurity, and opportunities for us to explore working together in the future.

Momentum for

Momentum for WASH

We supported efforts to introduce The WASH Act of 2022 (S. 3893), led by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Senator Jeff Merkeley (D-OR), and Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM). This legislation advocated for better WASH data collection and increased funding for decentralized solutions. 

An Historic

An Historic VISIT

For the first time in the history of McDowell County, a sitting federal EPA administrator visited our county on his Journey to Justice tour. Our staff coordinated the visit, which received national media attention highlighting our work. Following this trip, the EPA granted nearly $500,000 in funds to support wastewater infrastructure in McDowell County.


​​After another year of sustained growth, team DigDeep nearly doubled in size and capacity to reach more clients and amplify our work further than ever before. We’re a diverse team of engineers, storytellers, project managers, solar techs, and policy advisors from across the country, and we’re not stopping until every person in the U.S. has a working tap and toilet.

  • 37%

    of team DigDeep have lived without running water*
  • 21

    new people joining DigDeep in 2022, bringing the total to 66
  • 100%

    of project leadership comes from impacted communities
  • 42%

    of team DigDeep come from the communities we serve**


We proudly earned our Great Place to Work certification for the second year in a row, recognizing our commitment to creating a meaningful and equitable workplace. Anonymous employee feedback and independent analysis determine the certification, and provide our leadership with valuable insights.

Invest in

Invest in PEOPLE

Our team has quickly grown over the past three years, and so has our commitment to internal growth and retention. We completed comprehensive job competency mapping for every position at the organization to make this process transparent across our organization. 



In 2022, we welcomed Albert Alvidrez and Joann Harris as the newest additions to our Board of Directors. We are proud to have a diverse, and dedicated, Board of Directors serving DigDeep who are passionate about closing the U.S. water gap for good. Welcome Albert & Joann!

Best in

Best in CLASS

We grew our senior leadership with the addition of three key roles to build out a best in class team – Jeffrey Tang, Creative Director | Kabir Thatte, Director of Policy & Coalitions | Megan Merenda, Development Director


​Thousands of relentless supporters - like you - from across the nation supported our programs to close the water gap last year, some for the very first time. Because change starts small, and as we found in our latest report, for every $1 spent to close the water access gap, the nation sees nearly $5 in economic returns. We also launched our corporate partnerships program The Circle to drive transformational investments in our work.


Allocation of EXPENSES

DigDeep spent a total of $12,993,610 in 2022, including operational, programmatic expenses and fixed assets e.g. vehicles and building/warehouse improvements.

We saw major growth across all of our water projects, including the official launch of our Colonias Water Project in Texas, as well as the formalizing of DigDeep Labs and Sector-Building departments.

2022 Program Overhead & Fundraising
*Does not include vehicles and fixed asset purchases
Budget Growth Comparison

Program / Overhead EXPENSE RATIO

DigDeep continued to invest in building its administrative capacity to support our growing staff, financial infrastructure and the security of our technology and data. We raised specific, unrestricted funds to support this non-programmatic spend.  Our ratio remains almost unchanged from the previous year, and our FY23 ratio is projected at 15%/85% 

2022 Program v. Operating Expenses


Community-led water projects are still the mainstay of our work, even as we increase our investments in research, mobilization, and sector-building.

2022 Program Spend


We raised dedicated funds to build new systems and processes for HR, fundraising systems, recruiting, finance and marketing to ensure that we can sustainably support our growth.

2022 Operational Spend
Salaries, Taxes, Benefits
Project/Program Costs
Professional Services
General & Administrative / Office
Depreciation Expense
Fundraising & Consultant Fees
Website & Technology
Bank Fees & Interest Expense
Meals & Entertainment
Transparency is

Transparency is KEY

As always, 100% of public donations went directly to our programs to close the water gap in the U.S. We maintained a perfect Encompass score from Charity Navigator and a Platinum Seal of Transparency from Guidestar.

The Water


The Water Council is a prestigious group of donors who pledge a large, 3-year gift to cover DigDeep’s operating costs, so 100% of public donations can go right to programs.

Invest in CHANGE

Invest in CHANGE

We launched our corporate partnership program The Circle to foster collaboration and investment from for-profit companies to close the water gap in the U.S., for good.

Want to become part of the impact you see here?

Invest in