EWB – Shonto Irrigation
The mission of the Shonto Irrigation Project is to enable the Shonto community, a small community located within the Navajo Nation, to resume historically practiced sustainable agriculture. Prior to the 1970s, much of the land within the Shonto Valley was able to be farmed without active irrigation using a technique known as dryland farming. This practice was possible due to the naturally high water table within the valley resting just below the surface. However, in the late 1960s, a significant dam failure initiated severe erosion throughout the small creek that bisects the Shonto Valley. This erosion resulted in the lowering of the valley’s water table, making dryland farming no longer feasible. Only a handful of families currently farm within the Shonto Valley, in a limited capacity. Additionally, many other members of the Shonto community that own land within the valley have expressed to the project’s primary community partners, Felix Fuller and Roland Smallcanyon, their desire to return to the traditional farming techniques of their ancestors. Consequently, the objective of the Shonto Irrigation Project is to restore the water table of the Shonto Valley to its previous level in order to enable community members to resume traditional agricultural practices.
The proposed solution is to build a system of check dams along the Shonto River. The purpose of these dams is to catch sand and other debris as it washes down the river, gradually building up until the water table is restored without interupting the flow of the river.