1 Nov 2009

Weekend Discussion -- Good Water Managers?

NOTE: This post will stay here until Sunday night. Posts for Saturday and Sunday morning go below this post.

Dear Aguanauts,

Discussion posts allow you to discuss a topic among yourselves -- exchanging views, learning and teaching. (I only read the comments.)

If you are interested, take a moment to check out (and add to!) the last week's discussion on Carbon Offsets. After that, please give us your thoughts on...

Good water management. What's it mean? Please give examples -- urban or ag or... Bonus points for examples of bad water management/managers.


WaterSource/WaterBank said...

Water Managers are only those who can or are allowed to make decisions.

The good ones make plans for the future based on the worst case scenarios of the past and the study the calamities that have befallen others.

They continually read about and visit other water basin systems to glean the ingenuity of others in the areas of law, engineering, finance and natural disasters.

Good water managers do not spend money they do not have !

They see to it that improvements to the diversion, measurement and distribution segments are made each and every year IN ADDITION to the normal operation and maintenance (O&M).

Money held in reserve is in cash or cash equivalents, not the debt and I.O.U.'s of others.

The good water manager LISTENS to the ideas of all those who are involved in the daily delivery operations of the water and the "old-timers". The best and least expensive ideas often come from the lower end of the hierarchy.

Good managers get second & third opinions with regard to engineering, economic and legal matters.

The public and politicians need to learn to appreciate good water managers. Usually, it takes a serious crisis often brought about by an instantaneous natural disaster to discover who they should have been listening and paying attention to ...

Any bonus points ... What do I get to use them for ?

WaterSource said...

My father was a water manager (superintendent of a ditch/reservoir company) for 40 years.

The reservoir had a 176 feet high earthen dam built in 1904 and held 17,000 acre feet. There were well over a hundred miles of ditches some of which had been cut through solid rock with the use of horses and slips. I mostly remember the rattlesnakes and hornets on the wooden headgates.

In addition to the storage water right there were different priority water rights for the ditches. The ditches had numerous laterals and difficult to operate headgates with giant iron wheels, waste gates and wooden slash boards.

Things happened ! In '57, the backside of the dam blew out displacing a million cubic yards and leaving a hole that took months to repair. Flooding threatened to destroy the reservoir spillway more than once, so we would stay in an old trailer to watch at night for logs.

Some winters, ice jams were so bad on the river at the ditch diversion structures that we even tried dynamite to keep the river from over topping the headgates. Bull dozers were ususally brought in break up the ice.

Years later, as president of my own ditch company, the challenges continued with a hand dug tunnel that we had to crawl through to keep it clean; siphons that crossed open streams, gullies and a serious flood plain; and more neighbors depending on neighbors to protect their water rights and make deliveries along a twenty-five mile reach of complicated open ditches and pipelines. We cleaned & burned our own ditches and in some places the maintenance had to be done by hand with shovels. Economically, we never borrowed a dime and everyone paid their fair share based on their proportional ownership of the water rights.

The real challenge was eternal vigilance to monitor upstream governmental agencies that took our water without regard to our rights. I learned to file my own court cases and won them all ! It was this continual struggle to protect my water rights and those of my neighbors that taught me what I needed to know to later protect the water rights of an entire river basin. Who knows ... maybe someday that experience will expand to an entire region in several states....

Mister Kurtz said...

The standard metrics are things like reliability, worker and public safety, good cost controls, and the like. These are obviously important, but a good water manager ought to be able to accept new ideas, and be conversant with cultural and economic issues outside his water district. Come to think of it, successful executives in any field need to cultivate these traits.

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