October 22, 2015

Contact: Stuart Styles

Cal Poly Continues Partnership with U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to Provide Technical Assistance to Irrigation Districts

SAN LUIS OBISPO — The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) has awarded a one-year, $1.1 million contract to Cal Poly’s Irrigation Training & Research Center (ITRC) to continue and expand an existing technical assistance program for irrigation districts throughout USBR’s mid-Pacific region. The contract spans up to four years, with a total value of $5.8 million.

This funding will support vitally needed technical services and provide expert assistance for irrigation district modernization projects in areas with acute water needs across the state.

Through the partnership, the ITRC serves as a valuable extension to the in-house expertise of federal and state agencies and irrigation districts. ITRC’s qualified senior technical experts and engineers assist these agencies in making proper design and modernization decisions and conduct rapid appraisal process evaluations, which quickly — often in two weeks or less — determine key indicators of irrigation projects.

The ITRC program will target the benefits of direct technical assistance to individual irrigation and/or water districts in the Sacramento Valley and the San Joaquin Valley. A variety of training and technology transfer programs will also be provided.

Upon request, the ITRC provides independent expertise for specific water conservation programs for individual irrigation districts in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys. Examples of expertise provided include:

— Independent reviews of modernization and water management plans;
— Rapid appraisal process visits to review operation plans and help develop strategies for improved water delivery;
— Assistance with design and implementation of supervisory control and data acquisition systems, water measurement programs, on-farm irrigation evaluation and scheduling; programs, and other modernization efforts such as improving pumping plant operations, water ordering, and pressure control for improved water and energy management;
— Development of water balances to identify true water conservation potential and target appropriate activities; and
— A specialized program of selecting automation algorithms and tuning those algorithms for pump and canal gate automation with upstream, downstream and flow control.

The ITRC will continue to contribute resources to irrigation districts that need help designing and implementing irrigation modernization-related projects such as training classes water delivery modernization, flow measurement, and system design and maintenance, to be held both at Cal Poly and at the irrigation districts. As needed, the ITRC will perform special studies for purposes such as identifying water conservation potentials, or understanding cause/effect/solutions for technical problems. Results of programs and research will be published in newsletters and online, and new technologies will be presented and demonstrated to irrigation district personnel and irrigation professionals.

About Cal Poly’s Irrigation Training and Research Center
The ITRC is housed within Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences’ BioResource and Agricultural Engineering (BRAE) Department. It was formed in 1989 and continues to be self-supporting through contracts. Its work is comprised of approximately 65 percent direct technical assistance, 15 percent training, and 20 percent research for government and industry. The ITRC is led by Charles Burt, chairman and founder, and Stuart Styles, director, both internationally recognized irrigation experts.

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