The Hard Work of Local Farmers, Small Schemes, and Family Businesses

By Kris Polly

This month, we are pleased to feature Waimate District Mayor Craig Rowley in our cover story. Water is the lifeblood of this highly agricultural district, and Mayor Rowley gives us a good sense of how national regulations and reform proposals are affecting it on a local level.

We also bring you several stories of U.S. water management policy. The new commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, Camille Calimlim Touton, is from Nevada and is a well-known friend of the western water community. She has many years of experience in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee, and she previously served as the deputy assistant secretary for water and science in the U.S. Department of the Interior. We also speak with Commissioner Maria‑Elena Giner of the U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), the entity responsible for applying the boundary and water treaties between the United States and Mexico. Commissioner Giner tells us about the IBWC’s maintenance of levees, reservoirs, and dams; its water accounting and allocation; and its work on sediment management and removal.

Irrigation Leader readers will know about Nebraska’s successful system of natural resources districts (NRDs). In this issue, Alan Bartels of the Lower Loup NRD writes about the agency’s work to conserve water, build consensus on drought mitigation, and conduct crop and moisture studies, all while carrying out its duties to manage water and soil and provide recreational opportunities.

Southern Irrigation’s name belies its location—the agricultural and irrigation supply company is based in British Columbia, Canada. We speak with Chris Ford about his family’s background in irrigation in New Zealand and Canada and the wide variety of irrigated agriculture he helps support in British Columbia today.

Tom Osborn, an energy engineer at the Bonneville Power Authority (BPA), tells us about the agency’s efforts to improve the energy efficiency both of BPA customers, including irrigators, and of power stations and substations themselves. 

Finally, we speak with Dick Schober, managing director of public finance investment banking at Piper Sandler, about what irrigation districts should know about bonds and loans.

From New Zealand to Canada to Washington, DC, elected officials and water management professionals are working to assure that safe, abundant water is available to agriculture. I hope you find this month’s interviews informative and inspirational. 

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