Advancing Construction, Innovation, and Education

By Kris Polly

Across the irrigation industry, professionals are planning infrastructure improvements, both large and small; promoting innovation; and training and educating staff. 

Jeff Sutton is the general manager of the Tehama- Colusa Canal Authority (TCCA), which delivers water to 17 Central Valley Project water contractors that serve 150,000 acres of agriculture. As a member of the Sites Joint Powers Authority, the TCCA is advancing the construction of the proposed 1.5‑million-acre-foot Sites Reservoir. Mr. Sutton tells us about progress on this immense project. 

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 (OWOW) Center at the Metropolitan State University of Denver. The OWOW Center runs an online water studies certificate program that attracts water industry staff and board members and is also interested in communicating with irrigation district managers about 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. 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