UPPER FRUITLAND — An irrigation canal that provides water to farmland in Nenahnezad, San Juan and Upper Fruitland chapters breached last week causing flooding on nearby properties.

It breached Thursday morning causing a trench to form that directed water across Navajo Route 367 flooding at least three residences.

An uprooted Russian olive tree lay across the trench while water was heard rippling down the hill on Friday. Small pools of water remained on both sides of the road on Friday afternoon two pieces of heavy equipment were parked nearby.

Chapter resident Cynthia Francisco-Hosteen who lives about a mile northeast of the flooded area said her husband saw the water overflowing from the canal at about 8:30 a.m.

"I jumped into the truck with my husband and when we got there it was like, 'Oh my gosh, there's water everywhere,'" Francisco-Hosteen said.

In photographs she took, water can be seen flowing from the canal, then across the road and onto residential property on the north side.

One of the properties that flooded is home to chapter resident Gail Anderson.

The water left a clear path where it flowed before pooling in the front yards of Anderson's and her relatives' homes.

"We woke up that morning and water was flowing over the road," she said, adding that the homes suffered no structural damages.

Neither Francisco-Hosteen nor Anderson knew why the canal breached. Efforts to reach Shiprock Irrigation supervisor Marlin Saggboy for an explanation and comment were unsuccessful.


The flooding happened the same week a portion of Navajo Route 367 collapsed and slid down a hill toward the San Juan River.

Running along side the collapsed portion of the road is an irrigation canal, which was not damaged.

In a previous interview, Saggboy explained that after the collapse, water flowing into the canal was turned off then restarted to serve the Upper Fruitland Chapter after a section east of the damaged area was blocked by compacted dirt.

Navajo Route 367 is under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Road Department in Shiprock.

BIA Roads Manager Robert Montoya referred questions about the road to Doug Dockter, assistant construction engineer for the Bureau of Reclamation.

Dockter said officials did meet on Thursday to discuss the damaged road and decided the priority was to return the canal to operation so it can deliver water to the farms.

He added that personnel from the Navajo Engineering and Construction Authority were expected to start work this weekend to line the canal with material obtained through the bureau's emergency procurement process.

Plans to repair the road remain under discussion and officials continue to work together to figure out how to remove the debris, Dockter said.

"There is no estimate on when that will be complete," he said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636. nsmith@daily-times.com Follow her @nsmithdt on Twitter.