SHADOWS OF CHACO CANYON: THE WATER SOCIETY

THE WATER SOCIETY

Irrigation systems: A major rainstorm falling on the mesa above Chaco Canyon can provide half a million gallons of water to be used for irrigation in the fields below.  Aerial photographs show irrigation systems leading to gardens near Casa Rinconada, Peñasco Blanco, Chetro Ketl, Pueblo Bonito, Tsin Kletzin
Tsin Kletzin, Hungo Pavi, Una Vida, and Pueblo Wijiji.  Archeologists have identified remnants of diversion dams, canals, ditches, head gates, and reservoirs.  A series of gardens near Chetro Ketl measure 12 acres, but may have encompassed 24 acres at one time.  The average size of the subdivided plots is about 75 feet by 45 feet or one-thirteenth of an acre.

Weritos Dam: is located just below South Mesa.  The masonry structure is 130 feet long, 5.5 feet thick at the base, and 8 feet high.  Another dam, this one near Cly Canyon, is 120 feet long, 20 feet thick and 7 feet high!

Canals: Most canals are an average of 9 feet wide and between 2 and 5 feet deep.  The canals were lined with stone to minimize evaporative and seepage loss.  A canal near Peñasco Blanco extends for a distance of 750 feet, reaches 15 feet in width, and averages 4.5 feet in depth.  A head gate at the terminus diverts water from another canal and directs water to a series of garden plots that may have been used to grow the three sisters: corn, beans, and squash.


 
     




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