Volume 13 Issue 9 October

The Health and Wellness Issue By Kris Polly

Irrigation districts own and operate major infrastructure and powerful machines, but their greatest assets are their employees. That being the case, it is just as important for managers to care for and promote the health and wellness of their employees as it is for them to maintain their systems. In this issue, we bring you news of how some irrigation organizations are doing just that.

In our cover story, we interview Joel Irving, a former professional hockey player and today a salesman and project manager at International Water Screens. When he retired from professional hockey, Mr. Irving decided to take a break from athletics, but soon found his health declining. He tells us how he turned things around with a new daily running regimen.

Washington State’s Quincy–Columbia Basin Irrigation District started a wellness program in direct response to rising insurance premiums. Its program includes employee challenges, informational newsletters, and incentives to take advantage of preventative care. Turlock Irrigation District in California, meanwhile, has a health and safety program based around a platform called Seity, which incorporates daily app-based check-ins, exercise challenges, and more. Central Arizona–based Roosevelt Water Conservation District’s health and wellness program aims to promote the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of its employees and to build community through activities such as stretching classes, massages, activity challenges, and even pumpkin- decorating contests.

When Utah’s Provo River Water Users Association piped and buried one of its canals, it worked with local partners
to build a 17-mile multiuse public trail over it, a win-win- win for the agency, local communities, and the Provo River. General Manager Keith Denos tells us more.

We also speak with Aaron Baldwin of Canal Sugar, which is undertaking the monumental task of replacing 80 percent of Egypt’s sugar imports by planting tens of thousands of acres of sugar beets on challenging soils in the middle of the Egyptian desert.

Finally, we feature an interview with Eluid Martinez, the former commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation and state engineer of New Mexico, about the insights he has gleaned from his many years of experience.

Any irrigation district that currently lacks a health and wellness program should consider creating one, and the districts we feature this month supply excellent ideas about where to start. I hope their accomplishments are interesting and inspiring to you as well. 

Kris Polly is the editor-in-chief of Irrigation Leader magazine and the 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.