Volume 15 Issue 4 Apr AZ

Using Technology to Save Water and Labor

By Kris Polly

The Paloma Irrigation and Drainage District in Maricopa County, Arizona, is a relatively young district, dating back to only 2001, but when Robert VanHofwegen took over as manager in 2018, he still saw strong potential for modernization. By adding sensors, cameras, and automation, he has saved 6–10 percent of the district’s water and vastly improved labor productivity.

Next, we speak with Karl Stock, the new director of the Bureau of Reclamation’s California–Great Basin (CGB) Region, about the importance of maintaining the region’s infrastructure, building up its workforce, and moving forward with farsighted initiatives, such as the B.F. Sisk Dam raise and the Sites Reservoir project.

Ethos Connected started out with one mission—providing network connectivity to rural areas that lacked it—but soon branched out to building its own water management sensors and providing custom networks for irrigators and water managers. Julie Bushell, the founder of Ethos Connected, tells us more about the company’s accomplishments and where it is going from here.

Concrete Canvas’s new CCX‑M is a geosynthetic cementitious composite mat product that can armor and line canals in harsh conditions—and what’s more, it can be installed in 24 hours by irrigation district personnel. In our interview with Technical Manager Nathan Ivy, we hear about one California irrigation district’s experience using the product to line a stretch of earthen canal.

Electro Power’s business is centered on motor control and drives, particularly variable-frequency drives for irrigation applications, but its real specialty is service. With plenty of product on hand and the willingness to travel at the drop of a hat, Electro Power can solve customers’ dilemmas in no time. We hear more from three of the company’s officers.

The Italian company Tecnidro manufactures water meters and automatic control valves for agricultural and industrial applications. In our interview with Andrea Signoretto, we learn about the new Tangential Water series of meters, which is made of light but durable technopolymer.

Many readers may be generally familiar with the idea of water banking but unsure about the details. In our interview with Dan Haller, a senior principal water resources engineer at Washington State–based Aspect Consulting, we get down to the nitty-gritty: what a water bank is, how to set one up, and how it can benefit irrigation districts—including by opening up new revenue streams.

Finally, we speak with Travis Moger, the manager of Willwood Irrigation District in northwestern Wyoming, about the district’s century-old Willwood Dam.

By adopting new technologies and practices, U.S. irrigators are saving water, building profitability, and producing more of the food and fiber that supplies the nation and the world.

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.