Volume 15 Issue 6 June

Working for the Long Term in Waitaki

By Kris Polly

In this month’s cover story, we interview Gary Kircher, the mayor of the Waitaki District. With several terms on the council and several terms as mayor under his belt, he has a long-standing familiarity with the details of local irrigation schemes and the needs of irrigation farmers. In our interview, we talk about funding needs, the prospects for more water storage, regulation, and more.

Then, we turn again to a top international water issue: Mexico’s underdelivery of water to Texas under the terms of the 1944 Treaty on the Utilization of Waters of the Colorado and Tijuana Rivers and of the Rio Grande. This month, our cover interview is with United States Senator Ted Cruz, who highlights the “devastating” effect the shortfall in deliveries is having on South Texas farmers and pledges to keep pressing for a solution. Then, we speak with Tom McLemore, the general manager of Harlingen Irrigation District Cameron County No. 1, to get an on-the-ground view of how the situation is affecting irrigated agriculture.

Next, we turn to several novel technologies that are helping save water in irrigation applications worldwide.

Transpira is an award-winning new product line from the Toro Company that uses a sensor installed directly in the trunk of a tree to measure water use. Senior Product Manager Adam Setzler tells us more about its practicalities and benefits.

Then, we speak with Jan Gould, the CEO of Responsive Drip Irrigation, LLC, which has created a microporous dripline that releases water directly in response to plant root signals. Because it never overwaters, it can save 30–50 percent of the water used by conventional drip systems. Plus, there are no emitters to unplug!

Meanwhile, Juniper Systems is providing mapping tools to improve irrigation asset management, including rugged tablets, high-precision global positioning systems receivers, and easy- to-use software. Trevor Brown, the Uinta software product manager, tells us more.

Finally, we look at innovation in the crop itself. Emily Meccage, the senior manager of R&D at Forage Genetics International, informs us about the HarvXtra strain of alfalfa the company has developed. This reduced-lignin strain allows growers to adjust or lengthen their harvest schedule without affecting quality, meaning that they can get more or equal amounts of water.

As we work to address water scarcity around the world, everyone has a role to play. Our political leaders can help by passing farsighted laws or by pushing water users to abide by the agreements they have signed. Our industry leaders can help by pushing forward the technologies that will help us use water efficiently, manage our systems more effectively, and grow more with less.

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.