I have known Jay Chamberlin, general manager of the Owyhee Irrigation District, for 20 years and was especially pleased when he agreed to be interviewed and be on the cover of the October issue of Irrigation Leader. Jay is an accomplished manager, and it was a given he would provide an interesting interview. His final answer resonated with me: “I’ve dedicated my life to this work, and I can honestly say that it is a noble cause. This work is about the people—the people on the ground and the people at the Bureau of Reclamation. The work of the Bureau of Reclamation has made the desert blossom like a rose into a productive agricultural community.”
Jay is absolutely right. Keeping water on the fields for our farmers and in the pipes for our cities is a noble cause. It has been my experience that “the people on the ground” and all those involved in irrigation and water are some of the most dedicated, hardest working, and brightest professionals.
This issue of Irrigation Leader focuses on Oregon, and like our prior issues, it shows the tremendous caliber of the people who work in water. Congressman Greg Walden shares his common sense; April Snell reports on the key issues facing the Oregon Water Resources Congress; Tim Culbertson educates us about the Columbia River Treaty; Katie Ruark talks about the resourcefulness of the Desert Water Agency; Chuck Sensiba and Michael Pincus talk about needed post-hydropower legislation steps; Mark Stuntebeck updates us on the Klamath Irrigation District; Don Glaser shares his experiences with Reclamation; Don Chandler of the Farmers Irrigation District is in our “Board Member Profile”; Dave Filippi and Tony Willardson discuss important issues in our “Water Law” section; and, finally, a company with a great American history, The James Leffel & Co., is spotlighted in our “Innovators” section.
Jay also mentions the good work of Reclamation. According to Reclamation statistics, Reclamation projects “deliver water to more than 31 million people, and provide one out of five Western farmers (140,000) with irrigation water for 10 million acres of farmland that produce 60% of the nation’s vegetables and 25% of its fruits and nuts.”
Additionally, Reclamation’s 53 hydro power plants “annually provide more than 40 billion kilowatt-hours generating nearly a billion dollars in power revenues and produce enough electricity to serve 3.5 million homes.” Irrigation and hydropower are an undeniable value to our economy and to our country. The work to maintain and improve irrigation and hydropower is truly a noble cause.
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.