October 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of Irrigation Leader and the 101st issue of the magazine. A great thank you is owed our readers, advertisers, and most importantly, the many exceptional men and women in irrigated agriculture who have shared their time, solutions, and ideas with Irrigation Leader and its readership. 

Most of the credit for the idea of the magazine must be given to two individuals: the late Richard Lemargie, an exceptionally brilliant attorney for the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project; and Mike Dwyer, a true entrepreneur and, at the time, the executive director of the North Dakota Water Users Association. Richard phoned me a few months after the end of my term as deputy assistant secretary for water and science in the Bush administration and encouraged me to consider establishing a newsletter or publication. I appreciated his call and liked the idea, but I wasn’t sure how I could make the numbers work. Sometime after that, I attended a meeting of the Upper Missouri Water Users Association and sat at a table next to Mike. He told me about the magazine he had established, North Dakota Water, and we discussed the idea of founding a new magazine and its possible business plan.

The first issue took an entire summer to put together, but since then, we have been publishing 10 issues a year, as well as special issues on pressing topics like COVID-19. By this point, hundreds of people across the United States and the world have contributed their time, thoughts, and ideas to the magazine and, by extension, the global irrigated agriculture industry. Irrigation Leader has become an essential nexus for sharing ideas and news about new technology, projects, and practices. The magazine and its partners have also sponsored a number of educational tours, both domestic and international, to locations including Australia, Chile, and New Zealand.

This month, we take a deep dive into the fish passage project at central Washington’s Cle Elum Dam. Brady Kent, the agricultural development coordinator for the Yakama Nation, and Tom Ring, a recently retired longtime hydrogeologist for the tribe, illuminate the Yakama Nation’s role in advancing this project with a wealth of historical and technical information. 

For proof that our horizons are ever expanding, look no further than this issue. It features four stories from Spain and Portugal, two countries that we have not visited—yet, that is. We interview Adolfo Nieto, a technician at the Orellana Canal Irrigation Community, a Spanish irrigation district; Victor Morales Godoy of the State Society for Agricultural Infrastructure, the agency that funds irrigation improvements across Spain; Ramón Lúquez of the Ebro River Hydrographic Confederation, one of the nine river basin authorities that manages Spain’s water resources; and José Nuncio, who serves as the president of a Portuguese irrigation district as well as of Portuguese and pan-European irrigation associations. Finally, we also speak with Justin Harter of Washington State’s Naches-Selah Irrigation District about its impressive modernization projects, which involve replacing antiquated wooden infrastructure with modern fiberglass pipe and lined concrete.

From the beginning, the goal of Irrigation Leader magazine has been to feature the ideas and solutions of hardworking irrigators, businesspeople, innovators, and policymakers whose ingenuity and determination uphold the excellence of irrigated agriculture in this country. We are also committed to sharing new ideas from around the world to keep our industry moving forward. We thank you for your leadership and support, and we look forward to serving you for the next decade 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.