In this issue’s cover interview, Yakima-Tieton Irrigation District (YTID) Manager Rick Dieker perfectly summarizes the state of many irrigation districts across the West today: “We are living off the infrastructure investments that were made over a century ago, and it is time to start working on keeping them viable for the future.” Mr. Dieker and his peers in Washington State share the two qualities that have enabled districts to address aging infrastructure and bring their systems into the 21st century: commitment and vision.
For three decades, Mr. Dieker has been thinking big about how to maximize YTID’s water savings and ensure that every drop of water counts. He discusses YTID’s efforts to fully enclose its already pressurized distribution system, which is responsible for generating more than $600 million in agricultural revenues each year.
Roza Irrigation District Manager Scott Revell shares a story about building big water storage structures in an era in which that rarely happens. Last month, Roza ran water into a brand new $31 million, 1,600-acre-foot reregulation reservoir. The reservoir is part of a conservation plan that spans decades, helping the district manage its limited supplies and take the edge off droughts.
We also hear from Jay O’Brien of the Oroville-Tonasket Irrigation District, which is situated on the Canadian border along the Okanagan River. Mr. O’Brien has spent his entire career with district. His commitment to the farmers and communities he serves shows in his approach to all aspects of district management. “The district has always provided water for wildland firefighting. It is a good, neighborly thing to do.” These dedicated individuals are the reason why there is an Irrigation Leader magazine. They think big and care about the people they serve.
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.