Efficiency and Modernization

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 interview with Dean Edson, executive director of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD). On the night of May 30, 2020, the NARD’s headquarters were destroyed in an unprovoked arson attack, causing $250,000 worth of damage. Mr. Edson tells us about his experience working with the NARD’s insurance company and about his plans for the NARD’s future office space. 

Next, we speak with Phil Ball, an active police officer who is also the founder of the Situational Awareness Institute, a security training company. Mr. Ball tells us about the importance of crisis communications, emergency plans, and the steps that irrigation districts can take to secure their facilities. 

We also speak with Don Sussman, the CEO of Know CPR. Know CPR teaches CPR and other first aid skills in a memorable, hands-on manner. Mr. Sussman tells us about the importance of these skills and how his company has completely transformed its business model during the pandemic. 

Finally, Hamish Howard, owner and founder of Assura Software, discusses how his company’s services are uniquely able to catalog and manage assets while also providing several safety benefits. Assura’s software makes facility information available to all relevant staff and eliminates the need for in-person meetings, which is particularly important during this time. It also securely stores information and images in a digital format that protects them from fire. 

Many factors contribute to keeping one’s employees, customers, and facilities secure. They include technology, communications, planning, facility design, training, and workflow patterns. I hope that this special issue provides food for thought and helps you to plan for the security of your people and facilities. 

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.