Moving water efficiently is as much about people as it is about technology. For decades, Nebraska’s irrigation districts have led the way in adopting the latest technology to store, conserve, and stretch water supplies. Those districts have also taken steps to provide the necessary training and benefits to retain and grow their employees.

In this issue of Irrigation Leader, we speak with Kevin Adams of Farmers Irrigation District in western Nebraska about integrating education and leadership into his management of the district. His approach is about prioritization of knowledge: “I have learned that it is most important to first understand and manage myself, then understand the individuals working for me.” Mr. Adams applies that philosophy to his management of all the elements of the district.

Brad Edgerton of Frenchman-Cambridge Irrigation District discusses his district’s efforts to stretch its water. The district has moved toward total canal control with the aid of Rubicon gates and pumps from Watertronics. Based on his experience, he advises other managers, “Automation and efficiency improvement are investments that all irrigation districts should look into, especially if they are in a water-short basin where the value of water is high.”

We also hear from United States Senator Deb Fischer on the perils of an overly broad Clean Water Act jurisdictional rule, as well as on the collaboration among Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado on the Republican River.

These stories about Nebraska highlight the need for managerial and technological flexibility to move water where it needs to go. As Kevin Adams said, “When we can teach people about what goes on in the agricultural world and that one size does not fit all, it can improve our ability to do our jobs.”

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