Efficiency and Modernization

Irrigation district managers usually think of one thing when they hear efficiency: reducing water loss. Of course, the concept goes much further. Efficiency includes saving water, but it also means saving time, saving money, and making good decisions the first time around so that there is no need to reverse course. 

In our cover story, Shane Leonard of Arizona’s Roosevelt Water Conservation District (RWCD) tells us that efficiency goes beyond infrastructure upgrades. It also includes making sure that you have the right employees and that they are properly trained. This is all the more important in a rapidly urbanizing area like the one that RWCD serves. 

Our conversation with Rick Smith of Utah’s Davis and Weber Counties Canal Company (DWCCC) fills out the picture of urbanizing irrigation districts in the West. At nearly 140 years old, the DWCCC is lining and piping its system to serve a customer base that is now 50 percent urbanized. 

We also speak with Dan Davidson of Minidoka Irrigation District in Idaho. The district is seeking title transfer so that it has the flexibility to make changes to its system, gain extra revenue, and partner with other water users. 

Semitropic Water Storage District in California, meanwhile, is installing a metering system to ensure a responsible use of water. We learn more about how it selected the meters it did in an article by Jan Boling. 

In our interview with Dana Mohr, we hear about the truly exciting technology that his company, HydroSide, has developed. HydroSide’s water-powered system for moving wheel lines, traveling guns, and boom irrigation systems promises to save farmers time and help them irrigate more intentionally. The technology won the company the title of 2020 Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year. 

Finally, we hear from the Australian water management consultancy Aither. Aither provides economics, policy, and management advice that is informed by Australia’s experience in battling the early 2000s Millennium Drought. Aither’s expertise in water markets is particularly of interest. The company is currently expanding its operations into the United States. 

Improving infrastructure, measuring water use, building an expert workforce, taking advantage of automation, and learning the lessons of the global irrigation experience— these are all paths to efficiency. I hope you learn something new from the impressive irrigation professionals featured in this final issue of 2020. 

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.