Irrigation Leader
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    Volume 12 Issue 4 April Jack Russell and Sylvia Johnson: Advancing Groundwater Management at the Middle Republican Natural Resources District

    By Kris Polly Irrigation water managers in this nation have a difficult job and carry it out well. They keep systems in good repair, solve problems, and track water use and effects on the environment. In addition to the day-to-day management and maintenance of their systems, they are also always looking for the next big improvement they can make to their systems to make their jobs easier in the long run.  Nebraska’s Middle Republican Natural Resources District (MRNRD), which manages water and natural resources issues across more than four counties, including Hayes County, where my family has farmed for five generations, is implementing thousands of McCrometer telemetry meters on its…

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    Volume 12 Issue 4 April Washington State Edition Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers: Representing Eastern Washington on the Energy and Commerce Committee

    . By Kris Polly  In this month’s Washington State edition of Irrigation Leader, I am pleased to present an interview of Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers carried out by Washington State Water Resources Association Executive Director Tom Myrum. In it, Tom asks Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers about her priorities as ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and about her advocacy for water and hydropower in Washington State.  Nebraska’s Middle Republican Natural Resources District (MRNRD), which manages water and natural resources issues across more than four counties, including Hayes County, where my family has farmed for five generations, is implementing thousands of McCrometer telemetry meters on its wells and across…

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    Volume 12 Issue 4 April Arizona Edition Speaker Rusty Bowers on Prospects for Water Management in Arizona

    By Kris Polly Arizona’s irrigated agriculture is a national treasure that supplies much of this nation’s winter produce. I am pleased to be launching a new Arizona edition of Irrigation Leader, and in this inaugural issue, I am pleased to feature an interview with Arizona House of Representatives Speaker Russell “Rusty” Bowers, a fourth-generation Arizonan who knows water issues in his home state well. Speaker Bowers tells us about the importance of careful water management amid conditions of explosive population growth, about conflicts on the Colorado River, and about his legislative aims on water management.  Nebraska’s Middle Republican Natural Resources District (MRNRD), which manages water and natural resources issues across…

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    Volume 12 Issue 3 March

    The Rio Grande basin will soon enter its third decade of drought. This somber fact is well known to all the water managers on the river. The drought has affected their storage and deliveries and led to crop loss. Yet it has also inspired impressive feats of water conservation, planning, and environmental restoration. This month, Irrigation Leader brings you the stories of irrigation district managers along the entire length of the Rio Grande.  According to Treasurer/Manager Gary Esslinger, the 18-year drought that Elephant Butte Irrigation District is undergoing is now approaching the severity of the Dust Bowl droughts of the 1930s. The district, headquartered in Las Cruces, New Mexico, is…

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    Volume 12 Issue 3 March Washington State Edition Kristin Meira of the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association: How Northwest Waterways Work for Irrigated Farmers

    Barge traffic on the Columbia and Snake Rivers is a major route by which Washington State’s irrigated crops are shipped to the coast and around the world, and the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association (PNWA) is the trade association that brings together ports, businesses, public agencies, and individuals to support that traffic. In this month’s cover story, PNWA Executive Director Kristin Meira tells Irrigation Leader about the association’s work and its importance for irrigated ag farmers.  This month, we also focus on the effects of two decades of drought on irrigators in the Rio Grande basin and the impressive efforts that irrigation district managers are carrying out to respond. According to…

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    Volume 12 Issue 2 February Washington State Edition Jon DeVaney of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association

    In this month’s issue of Irrigation Leader, we highlight tree fruit, truly a jewel in the crown of Washington’s irrigated agriculture. As Jon DeVaney, the president of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association (WSTFA), tells us, tree fruit makes up 25–30 percent of the approximately $10 billion in farm-gate ag value produced in Washington every year. The WSTFA advocates for the industry in Washington, DC, and Olympia while also helping to spread useful new technologies, processes, and ideas to its members, including water conservation technologies.  Next, we turn our eyes toward Montana. In 2017, after 75 years of receiving affordable project use power (PUP) from the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program,…

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    Volume 12 Issue 2 February Preserving Irrigation for Sidney and Kinsey

    In 2017, after 75 years of receiving affordable project use power (PUP) from the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program, the Kinsey Irrigation Company (KIC) and the Sidney Water Users Irrigation District (SWUID) of southeastern Montana were told that it had all been a mistake. The Bureau of Reclamation’s lawyers had determined that the two water providers’ access to PUP was due to a bookkeeping error and that only specific congressional legislation would enable them to use it again.  Happily, 3 years later, that legislation was signed into law by President Trump, and the future of the KIC and the SWUID has been secured. One hundred thirty families will continue farming with…

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    Volume 12 Issue 1 January Washington State Edition Larry Martin: The Skills of a Top Water Lawyer

    Water resources agencies operate at the intersection of many legal fields, from water rights to environmental regulations to the everyday operating concerns of municipal entities. That means that being a water lawyer requires experience in and thorough knowledge of many areas of the law. In our cover story this month, water lawyer Larry Martin of Halverson Northwest walks us through the intricacies of his trade.  We also feature several stories on the reconstruction of the drop 5 structure in the St. Mary Unit of Montana’s Milk River Project. On October 15, 2020, 5 months after its May failure, Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman and Montana’s congressional delegation, among many other stakeholders…

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    Volume 12 Issue 1 January Successful Emergency Repairs on the Milk River Project

    The May 2020 failure of the drop 5 structure in the St. Mary Unit of Montana’s Milk River Project was a catastrophic event. “To me, it looked like a bomb had been placed under the middle section of the drop structure,” said Milk River Joint Board of Control (MRJBOC) Program Manager Jennifer Patrick. But less than 5 months later, on October 15, Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman and Montana’s congressional delegation, among many other stakeholders and supporters, were attending a ribbon cutting celebrating the reconstruction of the drop structure, which is once again helping deliver water to the Milk River to benefit to the farmers, tribal users, and municipalities of Montana’s…

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    Special Issue: Security

    Safety and security are important concerns for any irrigation district manager. A manager must make sure that employees are safe on the job; ensure that operations are carried out in a way that keeps the public safe; and protect facilities from damage, vandalism, or theft. This requires responsible and forward-thinking management and the ability to respond flexibly when unexpected events occur. This year has brought with it two major safety and security concerns: the COVID‑19 pandemic and the wave of rioting, arson, and looting that accompanied the nationwide protest movement that followed the death of George Floyd in May.  In this special issue on security, our cover story is an…