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Volume 2 Issue 8 September 2011 Solving Problems Through Leadership and Technology

The underlying theme of this issue of Irrigation Leader is technology and how it can be used to solve a myriad of water-related problems. It has been my continued observation that irrigation district general managers, like the farmers they deliver water to, embrace technology and change. The challenges of their jobs demand it, as new technology is the only way to stay ahead of the many issues a finite water supply, increasing costs, and additional regulation present.

When I talk to general managers about irrigation, the conversation always turns to the new things they are doing. It is impressive that something as ancient to mankind as irrigation is so dynamic. What is most impressive is the leadership the general managers and their boards of directors show in addressing and solving problems. The use and implementation of new technology is one of the more visible results of that leadership.

David Mansfield, General Manager of Solano Irrigation District (SID), is a prime example of that leadership and willingness to use whatever technology helps deliver water to customers and improve employee efficiency. When we contacted David to interview him about all the improvements at SID, he said he was happy to speak with us, but that he wanted his team to be on the phone as well. I smiled when David said that because this is a management style I observe frequently when riding around irrigation districts with general managers. You take your best people, give them a goal to achieve, and get out of their way. Most importantly, you give them credit for their accomplishments.

President Eisenhower once said, “You can accomplish anything if you are willing not to take the credit.” Eisenhower accomplished a great deal during his lifetime. David Mansfield, and other irrigation district general managers like him, accomplish a great deal as well. With their leadership, and the work of district employees, irrigation districts across the West are embracing the technology that will allow for the continued irrigation of our nation’s vital agricultural resources.

Kris Polly is editor-in-chief of Irrigation Leader magazine and president of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations firm he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at Kris.Polly@waterstrategies.com.