IA President Says the Irrigation Industry Must Make the Most of Finite Resources

Making the most of finite water supplies is crucial to the future of the irrigation industry, and the Irrigation Association must continue to lead the way in water management, said Irrigation Association (IA) President Ken Mills.

Mills took over as president during the 26th International Irrigation Show in Phoenix as executive committee members assumed new roles and five new members joined the leadership team.

Mills, general manager of the Contractor Division of Rain Bird Corp., sees water management, certification, education and the International Irrigation Show as key areas for the association in the coming year. Mills also emphasized that it’s important for the IA to spread the word about the important work the association is doing.

“The initiatives to assure our industry manages the use of water for irrigation for agriculture, landscape and golf irrigation will be critical to the success of our industry going forward,” Mills said. “The IA has been very active in that effort in the last few years. We need to continue this leadership to assure the viability of the industry, as well as to manage a finite resource.”

The IA’s Certification program, which along with IA Education has earned significant credibility in the industry, provides professionals with a way to differentiate themselves, Mills said. “It’s a good value that we add to the irrigation industry.” Mills said he would like to see certification for all professional groups in the industry.

Contractors and affiliate organizations are important to the IA’s mission to promote efficient and effective water management. Contractors are essential to teaching system owners, including homeowners, to effectively manage water, Mills said.

Grass roots involvement through affiliates is important to making sure the industry is seen as acting responsibly with natural resources and making sure water is available for irrigation. In addition to providing a voice in Washington D.C., the IA supports its affiliates on local and state legislative issues.

“We can't do it all on a national basis,” Mills said. “Many of the issues are local. Trying to do it from a national base is nearly impossible.”

Mills, who was chair of the IA Expo Advisory Council, said he believes it is important to continue to keep the International Irrigation Show fresh for exhibitors and attendees. The New Product Contest, added a few years ago, and the Solution Center, which debuted in Phoenix, are examples of innovations he wants to continue.

Assuming new Board of Directors Executive Committee positions are President-elect John Roberts of Roberts Irrigation; Vice President Doug York of Ewing Irrigation Products; Treasurer Stephen Smith of Aqua Engineering, who is new to IA leadership, and immediate past-President David Zoldoske of the Center for Irrigation Technology. New board members are Bob Dobson of Middletown Sprinkler, Reid Nelson of Nelson Irrigation, Ed Underhill of Underhill International Inc. and Mark Hewitt of Rain Bird Corp.

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