Water infrastructure projects generally involve huge amounts of concrete, miles of canal lining or pipe, or large capital installations. As a result, it is no surprise that they cost large sums of money and are often difficult to plan and pay for. In this issue of Irrigation Leader, we bring you conversations with an irrigation district, a grant-making institution, a grant consultant, an attorney, and a manufacturer that look at funding water infrastructure from every angle.
Our cover interview is with Matt Lukasiewicz of the Loup Basin Reclamation District. Loup Basin, which manages two subordinate irrigation districts, bought the title for its infrastructure from the Bureau of Reclamation in 2002. Mr. Lukasiewicz tells us about the benefits of private ownership and about how he funds his district’s infrastructure projects.
We also speak with Avra Morgan, Amanda Erath, and Josh German of Reclamation’s WaterSMART program about its array of infrastructure grants, and with Tia Cavender of Dig Deep Research about how irrigation districts should go about winning grants like these.
David Stock, a New Zealand attorney, describes the way that his country’s irrigation schemes take out loans based not on the value of their assets, but on the value of the long-term supply agreements they have with their customer-shareholders. This financing model, so distinct from common practice in the United States, deserves further attention.
Alberta-based Instream Water Control Projects, meanwhile, builds the capital projects that irrigation districts save up for.It recently installed a massive installation of 10 35-foot-wide radial gates at Alberta’s Bassano Dam.
Finally, we check in with two established companies that are continuing to innovate. McCrometer is well known as a propeller-meter manufacturer, but many people do not realize that it also manufactures a wide variety of telemetry-ready electromagnetic meters. Lindsay Corporation, one of the world’s leading irrigation equipment manufacturers, is also working to popularize remote telemetry systems. It has created a range of Pivot Control and Pivot Watch devices—some as cheap as $299—that connect center pivots to the company’s FieldNET remote irrigation-management platform.
Every irrigation district in the country has its eye on some sort of improvement project. Funding is always hard, but I hope that this issue of Irrigation Leader piques your imagination and gives you some fresh ideas for how to meet the challenge.
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.