What happens when lightning strikes a piece of critical infrastructure? Few irrigation district managers are eager to find out the answer to that question. Dave Solem of South Columbia Basin Irrigation District (SCBID), however, found out firsthand after one of his pump stations was hit by lightning on May 30. Thanks to hard work, recent upgrades to the pump station, and a little luck, SCBID was able to get the station back online in 2 days. Our cover story will be of interest to all managers who are responsible for preparing for and responding to accidents and natural disasters.

We also feature three stories on groundwater recharge and aquifer storage, important techniques that hold promise for irrigation districts and water providers across the country. Paul Cook of the Irvine Ranch Water District tells us about how his district uses its 502 acres of groundwater recharge ponds to bank low-cost water underground for future use. Alan Hansten of Idaho’s North Side Canal Company, meanwhile, tells us about how the State of Idaho is funding and building recharge structures off his company’s system, and Roger Chase of the Idaho Water Resource Board gives us the big-picture view of the state’s efforts to improve aquifer health and water supplies in partnerships with local and private organizations.

We also speak with Carl Pitzer of Thompson Pipe Group, which manufactures steel, fiberglass-reinforced plastic, and concrete pipe for both municipal and irrigation installations, and Dana Rosendahl, the president of General Irrigation, which has a new floating pump that will be of interest to our readers.

Finally, we have the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Tim Petty, the assistant secretary for water and science at the U.S. Department of the Interior, about his recent visit to the St. Mary unit of the Milk River Project, which was featured in the July/August issue of Irrigation Leader. We thank Dr. Petty for updating us on this important issue.

Groundwater recharge and aquifer storage are excellent examples of how water users and suppliers are learning to work with the local geological and geographical features of their areas. A better understanding of the natural world around us often helps us to be more sustainable and more effective at the same time. That is an excellent way forward for irrigators from Southern California to Washington State and beyond. 

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.