Volume 15 Issue 5 May NZ

Bringing a Farmer’s Insight to the Irrigation New Zealand Board

By Kris Polly

This month, we’re pleased to interview Mark Saunders, a Canterbury dairy farmer who recently joined the board of Irrigation New Zealand. We discuss Mr. Saunders’s operations, irrigation governance and policy issues, and his experiences on a recent irrigation tour of the United States.

Next, we focus on a serious situation in South Texas. According to the 1944 Treaty on the Utilization of Waters of the Colorado and Tijuana Rivers and of the Rio Grande, Mexico needs to deliver 350,000 acre-feet of water a year to the United States on the Rio Grande, averaged over a 5‑year cycle. With 1 year to go before the cycle ends, Mexico is nowhere near fulfilling its obligation, with serious consequences for South Texas irrigators. In our cover interview, we discuss these issues with Congresswoman Monica De La Cruz of Texas’s 15th Congressional District and other Texas water leaders, and then we get the farmer’s viewpoint from Brian Jones, who also serves as a state director for the Texas Farm Bureau.

Please see the obituary of our very good friend, Mr. Pat O’Toole, the president of the Family Farm Alliance and a champion of western water issues. Pat was an exceptional man, generous with his time and always kind and thoughtful. He is sorely missed by all who knew him.

Next, we turn to a water supply challenge in west-central Colorado. Paonia Reservoir, built from 1959 to 1962, suffers from serious sedimentation issues that are beginning to affect its functionality. Tom Alvey, the president of the North Fork Water Conservancy District, and Steve Fletcher, the superintendent of the Fire Mountain Canal and Reservoir Company, tell us about the issue and what they need to resolve it.

Then, we turn to solutions. The Chilean company Capta Hydro manufactures affordable, robust telemetry devices as well as automated gates and water management software. Growing quickly in recent years, it has expanded to Mexico and is actively working toward a U.S. launch. Chief Commercial Officer and Finance Officer Gastón Dussaillant tells us more.

Moleaer manufactures a range of nanobubble generators that inject water with millions of microscopic air bubbles, with benefits for many industries. Michael Davidson, the senior market development manager for irrigation water, tells us why air should be classed alongside water, sun, and soil as critical inputs for crops.

Would you believe that irrigation and canal districts could save significant amounts of money and reduce chemical use by introducing fish into their canals? That’s the idea behind Pat Church’s business Fresh Catch Fish Inc., which recommends and sources specific species of fish to control aquatic weeds and pests.

Telemetry devices, automated gates, nanobubble generators, and fish. All are specialized solutions that are helping our irrigation districts husband their increasingly scarce water resources. The technology and expertise of the professionals in our field are making sure that our irrigation water is used wisely.

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.