An ongoing emergency

As drought persists, Navajo Nation must secure its water future

By Andrew Curley
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, Feb. 27, 2014

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(Times photo – Donovan Quintero)

What remaining moisture that is left in the soil is sucked dry by the hot summer sun and forming cracks in the ground on July 8 at Many Farms Lake in Many Farms, Ariz.

In a dry region with large water projects and even larger water politics, the Navajo Nation faces serious challenges in securing enough water for its future.

"It's terrible. All our topsoil is running off because the water isn't sinking into the ground," said Janene Yazzie of Lupton, Ariz. "It's just running off. The plants aren't returning, they're just being replaced by shrubs."

Yazzie helps organize a coalition of chapters along the Little Colorado River to start using and planning for their future water needs.

Similarly, Jaques Seronde, a non-Navajo agriculturalist who farms near Leupp and has farmed in Western Navajo since the late 1970s, said, "What we're finding is that there is less rain, but when it comes there are bigger floods."

He went on to explain that the weather is becoming more and more extreme with long periods of drought followed by torrential rains.

For Seronde, this means a lot of water is lost for the Navajo Nation because there is no infrastructure to capture the water runoff, which is more and more frequent with the sudden rains.

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