Volume 15 Issue 3 Mar NE

Pursuing Projects on the Plains

By Kris Polly

The Upper Republican Natural Resources District serves to preserve and protect groundwater in a southwesterm Nebraska watershed with nearly 450,000 acres of groundwater-irrigated land. The district’s ambitions are as broad as its Great Plains horizons: In our cover interview with General Manager Jasper Fanning and Assistant Manager Nate Jenkins, we discuss long-term planning, Republican River Compact compliance, meter upgrades, groundwater modeling, and more.

This year, Gary Kennedy will be stepping down as the superintendent of Colorado’s Mancos Water Conservancy District after 34 years of service. During his tenure, he has been responsible for significant rehabilitation and modernization projects, some of which have even required him to have bills passed by Congress. We also speak with Tom Burris, the vice president of the district’s board, about the enormous benefits that Gary has brought to the district and the region as superintendent.

Readers may know Keith Denos from his time as the general manager of Utah’s Provo River Water Users Association. Today, Mr. Denos is bringing his experience to bear as a consultant for board members and general managers. We delve into his insights in our interview.

Spherag is a Spanish company that provides simple devices to link valves, pumps, flow meters, and other infrastructure to the cloud, where Spherag delivers predictive maintenance, irrigation recommendations, reports, automation, and more. Founder and CEO Jesús Ibáñez tells us about the value this can deliver.

Toro may be best known for its lawn care devices, but the company has a significant presence in agricultural irrigation. Eduardo Mendías, who oversees the company’s Aqua‑Traxx drip irrigation product line, tells us about the time and labor that can be saved by the company’s multistage filters and flow regulation technology.

JEO Consulting Group is helping irrigation districts across Nebraska update their infrastructure, conserve water, and become more sustainable. Michael Placke, a senior project manager, tells us more.

Next, we share a unique idea for supplementing the flows of the Colorado River. Jake Hamill, a rancher in northwestern Colorado, proposes that water be diverted from Yellowstone Lake, piped under the Continental Divide, and deposited in Flaming Gorge Reservoir. We discuss with him the many questions that would need to be considered before making this ambitious idea a reality.

Finally, we speak with Manager Coley Burgess of southeastern New Mexico’s Carlsbad Irrigation District about its implementation of Rubicon’s Total Canal Control automation system and the district’s canal-lining projects.

Continuous improvement is a must for irrigated agriculture, and the stories in this issue illustrate it perfectly, from legislation to new technologies to infrastructure projects.

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.