Irrigation Leader
Featured,  Interview

Craig Gyselinck East Wenatchee, WA

Manager | Greater Wenatchee Irrigation District

Years working in irrigation: 11 

Years as manager: 5 months 

Number of employees: 7 

Size of service area in acres: 10,000 

Amount of water diverted for irrigation per year in acre-feet: 40,000 

Main crops irrigated: Apples, cherries, pears 

Predominant irrigation methods: Pressurized 

Irrigation Leader: What is the top issue facing your irrigation district today? 

Craig Gyselinck: We’re a small district with lots of infrastructure, and addressing our aging pumps, motors, pipelines, and meters, which are nearing 60 years old, is one of my top priorities. We have about 75 miles of pipelines, which are up to 49 inches 

in diameter, and over 70 pumps and motors. Our biggest pumping plant is 7,500 horsepower. 

Irrigation Leader: What future issues are you preparing for? 

Craig Gyselinck: Through the persistently hard work of many individuals, we completed title transfer from the Bureau of Reclamation in December 2021. This means that the district now owns our infrastructure and easements. One of the benefits of title transfer is that we now have access to new funding opportunities to address our aging infrastructure. We recently received a $6.1 million bond and have put together a capital improvement program to plan for the future. 

Irrigation Leader: What are your top issues regarding personnel? 

Craig Gyselinck: My top issue for personnel is making sure my staff have the resources they need to be successful at their jobs. The district currently only has seven employees to serve water to our East Unit in East Wenatchee, our Brays Landing Unit near Orondo, and our Howard Flats Unit near Chelan. It takes about 1.5 hours to drive from one side of the district to the other, so we are spread thin and we strongly depend on each other. It takes a solid team to get our jobs done. 

Irrigation Leader: What training do you currently provide your employees? 

Craig Gyselinck: We provide training on an as-needed basis and primarily take advantage of the great opportunities that the Washington State Water Resource Association and Water Strategies provide. 

Irrigation Leader: What kind of safety programs do you have in place? 

Craig Gyselinck: Our crews work around pumps, motors, and electrical equipment, and safety is a top priority. We talk about safety each day before we begin our work. 

Irrigation Leader: What is the most important thing you have learned as a manager? 

Craig Gyselinck: I’ve learned the importance of building a team to be successful, including internally with staff and externally with local, regional, and federal partners. Without strong networks, it is more difficult to thrive. 

Irrigation Leader: What are the top skills needed to be a successful manager? 

Craig Gyselinck: Keeping an open mind and listening to those around you is one top management skill. Listening is how you build partnerships, develop new ideas, and responsibly consider the decisions that come before you. I constantly remind myself of the importance of listening and hope to never lose sight of listening as a skill. Almost on a daily basis, I ask myself, “Did I listen well enough today?” 

Irrigation Leader: What is the best way to work with a board of directors? 

Craig Gyselinck: I try to communicate with my board members often so that they are aware of the challenges we face and the good work we are achieving. 

Craig Gyselinck is the manager of the Greater Wenatchee Irrigation District. He can be contacted at craig@gwid.org.