The mission of the Shonto Irrigation project is to empower the Shonto community–a small community located on the Navajo Nation–to resume sustainable agricultural practices. Prior to the 1950s, much of the land within the Shonto Valley was able to be farmed without active irrigation. This practice was possible due to the high water table. However in the 1950s, a large dam failure resulted in the rampant erosion of the John Smith wash, a small creek which bisects the Shonto Valley, and the drop of the valley’s water table. The drop in the water table made historically practiced farming techniques impossible. Currently few families still farm the area. The objective of our project is to return dryland farming practices to the land by raising the water table.

In order to restore the water table in the Shonto valley, our group has proposed the installation of a series of sandbag check dams along the John Smith wash. These check dams will retard the water flow allowing settlement to accumulation on the downstream side of the check dams. This process will increase the average level of the creek throughout the entire valley. In turn, this will raise the water table. Each individual dam will consist of 10-30 sandbags which will be installed along the length of the wash over the course of 5+ years. It is our hope that alongside the community members we will be able to work together to install these dams and ultimately raise the water table.

Team Members:

  • Sean Haynie, Junior, Mechanical Engineering
  • Matthew Kimball, Senior, Materials Science and Engineering
  • Jackson Krug, Sophomore, Aerospace Engineering
  • Anna Kruse, Sophomore, Mechanical Engineering
  • Kian Masri, Sophomore, Computer Science and Mathematics
  • Ryan Stephenson, Sophomore, Electrical Engineering
  • Matthew Zamora, Junior, Aerospace Engineering