The Many Pieces of the Irrigation Industry

By Kris Polly

Many things come together to make irrigated agriculture possible: infrastructure, including dams, reservoirs, and canals; new inventions to promote safe water delivery; education for professionals; and governmental relations work to ensure that legislators understand what farmers need to be successful. 

All these things come together at Ashburton Lyndhurst Irrigation Limited (ALIL). ALIL has piped its system and added turnout water meters and other technology, all while encouraging its shareholders to be more efficient on farm and navigating the changing New Zealand regulatory environment. In this month’s cover story, ALIL General Manager Rebecca Whillans tells us about ALIL’s system improvements and its plans for the future. 

Also in this magazine, Jeff Sutton, the general manager of Northern California’s Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority, tells us about his work advancing the construction of the proposed 1.5‑million-acre-foot Sites Reservoir. Justin Eary, the manager of eastern Oregon’s Horsefly Irrigation District, tells us about the piping projects his district is undertaking to conserve water in its arid environment. 

The Bureau of Reclamation is promoting innovation in an unusual manner: It runs contests for new innovations in a number of categories. Jennifer Beardsley of Reclamation introduces the prize competition program, and then we speak to the three finalists in the ongoing Canal Safety Challenge: Erling Juel of Greenfields Irrigation District, who created the Inclined Stepped Ramp; David Maxson of Isotope LLC, who created the Rescue Deck; and Hunter Morrical of WGM Group, who created the Hydro Scoop. 

We also speak with Tom Cech, one of the codirectors of the One World One Water Center at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, about the center’s online water studies certificate program and its interest in working with irrigation district managers on personnel and training needs. 

Building new reservoirs, promoting new inventions, and educating the next generation of irrigation leaders are all crucial ways of planning for the future of irrigated agriculture, both in the United States and in New Zealand. I hope you enjoy reading about them in this issue of Irrigation Leader. 

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