The Case for Collaboration

Irrigation Modernization in the West would not be progressing as efficiently or as quickly without the committed cooperation of multiple public and private entities. Through FCA's Irrigation Modernization Program, a broad coalition of agencies and nonprofits are working together on water solutions for the benefit of their communities.

While past initiatives have focused on specific goals - such as water conservation, hydropower production, system efficiencies, and broader conservation benefits - there has been little progress in attracting large-scale investment in comprehensive, unifying solutions. Many irrigators need additional help to navigate the complexities of a modernization plan. Success requires a larger common vision that, in partnership with irrigators, unites policy-makers with private, philanthropic and public stakeholders and communities.

In 2015, Farmers Conservation Alliance and Energy Trust of Oregon developed the IMP to help irrigation districts and the farmers they serve revolutionize their infrastructure. This innovative program reduces the cost and time required for project planning and implementation, addresses key regulatory and institutional barriers, leverages funding, and demonstrates how modern agricultural water management can mitigate the impacts of long-term drought and other serious environmental and agricultural challenges.

FCA produces System Improvement and Watershed plans for each irrigation district participating in the program. In producing the plans, districts partner with their irrigators and appropriate agency and community stakeholder groups to identify the values and goals they want to achieve in the future, quantify potential modernization benefits, and develop strategies for funding and implementation.


Aaron Hewitt, Damon Ristau

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