Constant Improvement

By Kris Polly

Irrigation water managers in this nation have a difficult job and carry it out well. They keep systems in good repair, solve problems, and track water use and effects on the environment. In addition to the day-to-day management and maintenance of their systems, they are also always looking for the next big improvement they can make to their systems to make their jobs easier in the long run. 

Nebraska’s Middle Republican Natural Resources District (MRNRD), which manages water and natural resources issues across more than four counties, including Hayes County, where my family has farmed for five generations, is implementing thousands of McCrometer telemetry meters on its wells and across its system. MRNRD Manager Jack Russell and Assistant Manager Sylvia Johnson tell us about how this improvement allows the district to move from just regulating groundwater to helping its producers come up with ways to manage and reduce their water use. 

The Central Oregon Irrigation District (COID) is also carrying out a major conservation project: the first phase of the piping of its 23‑mile-long Pilot Butte Canal. COID Managing Director Craig Horrell; COID Deputy Managing Director Shon Rae; and Kevin Isley of construction firm Taylor Northwest, who is the project manager for the piping project, speak with Irrigation Leader about the piping project and COID’s other top current issues. 

Small hydro firm NuSTREEM, meanwhile, is offering new and innovative ways for irrigation districts to improve their systems. General Manager Juliann Blanford tells us about the NuCONTAINER, a modular, transportable powerhouse packaged inside a shipping container, and Kevin Polak, NuSTREEM’s mechanical design engineer, gives us insight into how he designed the NuCONTAINER. 

We speak with Jim Lowry of Hose Solutions, Inc., about its durable, flexible, and noncorrosive hoses, which are designed to move water, wastewater, concrete slurries, fuels, and other liquids. 

Finally, Bob Wietharn of Riverscreen tells us about his 2019 trip to Ukraine and Russia, where he visited Riverscreen customers and saw agricultural and irrigation practices in those countries up close. 

With new meters, new pipelines, and new technology, irrigation districts and water managers across the nation are making constant improvements to their systems. I hope the stories in this issue of Irrigation Leader give you inspiration for some improvements of your own. 

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