By Kris Polly
Touring irrigated farmland in Australia is always impressive. Stricken by the Millennium Drought of 1998–2010, Australia reacted vigorously with government policy, the establishment of water markets, and the mass adoption of automation in its irrigation water delivery systems. There is much to learn in Australia, and I was happy to lead a tour to the country in March of this year.
This entire issue is dedicated to our Australia tour and some of the water leaders we met through it. First, we feature the thoughts and reactions of the participants about what they saw and learned. There’s also a map of the itinerary of our short but busy trip. Then, we feature interviews with leaders at two of the irrigation districts we visited on the tour: Managing Director Charmaine Quick of Goulburn-Murray Water and General Manager of Operations Steve Oosthuysen of Coleambally Irrigation Co-operative Limited (CICL). They tell us about their major modernization and automation efforts—both using Rubicon Water technology—and about dealing with the pressures of government reform and regulation. Next, we turn from the district level to the individual farm. Russell Pell, who runs a large dairy operation in northern Victoria, Australia, has installed Rubicon’s automatic flood irrigation technology on his own farm, dramatically increasing his water use efficiency and productivity.
To learn more about some of Rubicon’s top solutions, we turn to Matt Ryan, Rubicon’s general manager of technical services. He gives us the lowdown on the Total Channel Control, Low Energy Pipeline, and BladeMeter solutions and provides a glimpse of what the future might hold.
Finally, we take a look at a 2016 exchange between the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District (ECBID) in Washington State and CICL. Nate Andreini, ECBID’s assistant manager for technical services, spent 2 weeks at CICL, and CICL’s Daniel Whittred spent 2 weeks at ECBID. We talk with both of them and to ECBID Secretary-Manager Craig Simpson about their experiences and the value of the program.
Australia has much to teach the water-strained American Southwest. If you are a water manager interested in seeing some of Australia’s automation solutions firsthand, I encourage you to get in touch—we are always thinking about our next tour.
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 email@example.com.
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