Volume 14 Issue 9 October NE

An Unusual Problem

By Kris Polly

In many regions of Nebraska, aquifer depletion is a problem. Not so in the Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District (MNNRD), one of Nebraska’s 23 natural resources districts, where in 2020 groundwater levels increased by an astonishing 5 feet. In response, the MNNRD has launched numerous watershed development and flood protection projects. General Manager Mike Murphy, Watershed Coordinator Chandler Schmidt, and Water Resources Coordinator Kyle Temple tell us more.

Next, my friend Patrick Sigl, a principal managing attorney at the Salt River Project and the volunteer chair of the National Water Resources Association’s litigation committee, sits down with Damien Schiff, a senior attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation, to discuss one of the most significant Supreme Court decisions of the year: Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency.

Then, we speak with Doug Marine and Chase Anderson, the owner and the chief financial officer, respectively, of Agri Services International. The company, which started out installing full-service agricultural irrigation systems for citrus growers in Florida, now works in eight U.S. states and seven countries across Central America and the Caribbean. In our conversation, we hear about Agri Services’ innovative efforts to save Florida citrus from disease and discuss the differences between irrigated ag in Florida and that in other parts of the country.

Next, we speak with Justin Troudt, the director of sales at Unverferth Manufacturing’s Orthman division, to learn more about the company’s wide range of products of interest for the irrigated ag industry, including pivot track tillers.

The Idaho Water Users Association (IWUA) has recently launched a leadership program called Headgate that covers leadership, water management, communications, and team building. IWUA Executive Director and General Counsel Paul Arrington and Office and Program Manager Kathryn Scott tell us about the origins, evolution, and results of the new program.

Many in the U.S. irrigation industry will know that Australia is another leading country for irrigated ag as well as the home of many advanced agricultural and water management companies. In a conversation with Nigel Warren, the commissioner to the Americas for the government of the State of Victoria, Australia, we hear more about the potential for trade and business expansion between the United States and Victoria.

Finally, we speak with Lower Yellowstone Irrigation Project (LYIP) Manager James Brower about the 2-mile-long fish bypass the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built around its underwater diversion weir. The weir has been a smashing success in terms of protecting the sturgeon, but questions remain about whether LYIP’s farmers will be charged for upkeep on the weir, which LYIP does not own.

From Florida to Nebraska to Australia, irrigated agriculture is being built up and improved through new technologies, training programs, and trade relationships. I hope you enjoy our interviews with your peers in the industry this month.

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.