Bringing Experience and Understanding to the Legal Field

By Kris Polly

The success and flourishing of an irrigation district depend on many things—weather, funding, upkeep, modernization, and planning, for instance—but perhaps no factor counts as much as does a good manager. A manager must know their district’s distinctive characteristics and challenges, their employees, and their board. And they must have a clear vision of the future and what it will take to bring their district success. 

This month, we bring you our first Managers Issue since January 2020. In this issue, we interview 21 managers, hailing from across the western United States and even across the world, about their top issues, their training and safety programs, the lessons they’ve learned, and their plans for the future. Each of them also tells us about the top skills needed to be a strong manager. 

Every district is different, and not every district will have the same challenges that you face in your daily work. But much can be learned from seeing how managers in different areas, facing different weather conditions, regulatory burdens, funding situations, and labor markets, respond and plan. A broad collection of data points tends to reveal common themes—drought and the need for infrastructure modernization, for instance—as well as divergences—for example, in approaches to personnel training. 

Most importantly, much can always be learned from experienced professionals talking about their personal experiences. While these interviews are short, they include insights gleaned from many years of experience. I hope you find this diverse collection of interviews interesting and thought-provoking. 

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