Volume 14 Issue 9 October NM

Protecting the Pecos Valley Artesian Aquifer

By Kris Polly

The Pecos Valley’s artesian aquifer must have seemed almost miraculous when it was discovered in the late 19th century, but before long, its freely flowing wells started depleting the groundwater and saturating soil on the surface. In response, the New Mexico legislature created the Pecos Valley Artesian Conservation District (PVACD) to plug wells and conserve the aquifer. As Superintendent Aron Balok tells us, the PVACD continues that important work today as well as monitoring wells and funding conservation projects.

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 of other parts in 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, Sharon Megdal, the director of the University of Arizona’s Water Resources Research Center, joins us to share some interesting insights from the university’s new report, The Future of Agriculture and Food Production in a Drying Climate, which covers topics such as competition over water supplies, soil health, cropping patterns, and irrigation methods.

From Florida to New Mexico 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.