Irrigated lettuce field.
Irrigated lettuce field.

Wanted: Future ‘water buffaloes’ for management program

Now is the time to tap and train new aspiring water leaders to effectively take the future reins of agricultural water management through the Water Management Certificate Program.

Water is indeed the lifeblood of agriculture. Not only is water needed to produce food and fiber, well-trained managers of the precious resource are critical to make sustainable decisions for the future of irrigated farming.

At the recent Southwest Ag Summit, water specialist George Seperich of Arizona State University (ASU) said agriculture’s “water buffaloes” – those people with a thorough understanding and hands-on knowledge of western water issues – are getting older.

Now is the time, Seperich says, to tap and train new aspiring water leaders to effectively take the future reins of water management in agriculture. This is the rationale behind the Water Management Certificate Program (WMCP), a collaborative effort by ASU and the Agribusiness & Water Council of Arizona.

The program was launched several years ago and the 5th annual Certificate Program will launch in September and run through June 2018. Classes for the nine-month program meet once a month – Friday afternoons and all-day Saturday – in the Phoenix area. If a class is missed, the student can review the class content online.

The program engages faculty with hands-on experience.

“What makes this program truly unique is it’s taught at a university (ASU) with no university faculty involved,” Seperich noted.

Faculty include: Tom Davis, general manager of the Yuma Water Users’ Association, Salt River Project water leaders, and others.

Seperich said, “Its real people who manage water for a living sharing their knowledge with students. We have a network of colleagues who are training the next managers for water systems.”

WMCP students from California, Arizona, New Mexico, and the Republic of Mexico have graduated from the program. 

The program cost is $3,600 for the completed certificate. Applicants must submit a letter of interest, plus a letter of support from the sponsoring agency if appropriate, plus a current resume.

For more information, contact Kathy Rappleye at (480) 558-5301 or [email protected]; or Larry Olson at (480) 727-1499 or [email protected],edu.

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