Volume 13 Issue 10 Nov/Dec WA

Why Irrigation Is Foundational

By Kris Polly

Irrigation is one of the cornerstones of the economy of central Washington’s Tri-Cities area. In our cover interview, Karl Dye and David Reeploeg, respectively the president and CEO and the vice president for federal programs of the Tri-City Development Council, or TRIDEC, explain how irrigation underlies the region’s wide variety of crops and its food production and processing industries. Clean water is also an input for other industrial and commercial facilities.

Next, we turn our attention back to the Colorado basin, where drought is still top of mind. We are honored to feature a cover interview with United States Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who is increasingly recognized as one of the top water leaders in Congress’s upper chamber. We also speak with representatives of two California irrigation districts that are fully supplied by the Colorado River. Water Department Manager Tina Shields of Imperial Irrigation District tells us about how her organization is conserving water, increasing operational flexibility, and increasing system and on-farm efficiency. Then, Palo Verde Irrigation District board member Jack Seiler tells us about his agency’s unique fallowing and transfer agreement with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which saves water and earns the district money. We also hear from Melissa Lowry, a grants and marketing coordinator at Rubicon Water, about how Rubicon is actively helping its clients, many of them in California, to apply for grants to fund system modernization.

Next, we talk to Executive Director Paul Arrington and Office and Program Manager Kathryn Scott of the Idaho Water Users Association about the Legislative Water College program it founded to help educate new legislators on water resources issues.

By carrying out confidential, anonymous interviews with an agency’s employees, the Situational Awareness Institute (SAI) can help water districts and other organizations maintain a satisfied and productive workforce. SAI Cofounder and Lead Instructor Phil Ball tells us more.

Mike Mills, Reinke’s director of sustainability solutions, tells us about the company’s roots, its recent pivot to advanced tech, and what it has to offer producers in New Zealand and around the world.

Finally, in our Professional Focus feature, we introduce Marketing Manager Tanika Owens of Emrgy, a provider of modular hydropower units that should be of interest to any operator of open-channel conveyance infrastructure.

As Senator Sinema emphasizes, this moment requires leadership, compromise, and cooperation. Faced with serious challenges on the Colorado, it is important that the irrigation industry think creatively and be open to new solutions. IL

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 kris.polly@waterstrategies.com.