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New man at the irrigation helm for TID

Posted on September 12, 2013 by Taber Times

Taking over as the new district manager of the Taber Irrigation District (TID), Chris Gallagher has been on the job, replacing long-time district manager Kent Bullock, who recently retired from the position.

Originally hailing from Ontario, Gallagher has held various positions since coming to the province in the late 1990s.

“I grew up in Ontario, and went to the University of Guelph for biological engineering. I moved out to Alberta with my wife in 1998, and actually worked for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). I managed the Lethbridge CNIB office for a couple of years. My wife convinced me I needed to go back to school, so I took the watershed management program at Lethbridge College — after a couple of years here, I knew that water was what it was about here. I started on with UMA Engineering — that’s where I got the training I needed to obtain my professional engineer’s licence. I worked there for about five-and-a-half years, and then was at St. Mary’s River Irrigation District, before coming here.”

Gallagher will be assessing the potential for the TID to enhance its infrastructure profile in the future.

“A lot of my background is with infrastructure design. One of the real assets I bring is a wide perspective on the types of infrastructure that’s available, and the current design methodologies. I’m able to take a look at what we have here, and what the potential is for long-term development.”

Opportunities exist to improve the district in the future, according to Gallagher.

“It’s a good group of people here. They’re very committed, long-term employees. They certainly have a lot of respect for the district, and loyalty — I appreciate that. The infrastructure itself, and how it’s managed, they’ve been doing what they need to do — the water users have been getting their water — but there’s some aging infrastructure, and some opportunities for some improvements in some areas. I’m still early on in the process, and one of my major goals is to assess the infrastructure, and figure out where to be spending money on making improvements.”

Former district manager Kent Bullock stayed on for a month while Gallagher was settling into the position to help familiarize him with the duties and responsibilities entailed by the top position at the TID.

“I’m liking it very much. I was quite anxious, and I really appreciate the fact that Kent (Bullock, former TID manager) was here for this last month. He had my head swimming for the first couple of weeks trying to learn the ropes. I feel like I have a pretty good handle for being only one month in, on what the basic responsibilities are. I’m definitely looking forward to continuing working here.”

An initial challenge has been getting the district’s current projects ready for implementation once the irrigation season draws to a close.

“First of all, with getting this year’s projects out the door,” said Gallagher. “That’s something that there were some final details on alignment of pipelines, and basic concepts of what to submit to our funding source, which is the Irrigation Council. So they held off to see what the new manager thinks — that process of holding off now means that we’re in rush mode right now. Our main focus right now is to make sure that our projects are ready to go out the door, so that our construction crews will be ready to work, come the end of the irrigation season.”

Gallagher is also involved in the Aquatic Invasive Species Management Program that is working to prevent the introduction of Zebra and Quagga Mussels as well as Eurasian Watermilfoil, through inspections, education and awareness.

“Quagga Mussels are the greatest threat as they prefer dark places and flowing waters and can attach to and clog up irrigation pipelines and sprinkler systems. I am also sitting on the Alberta Agriculture steering committee that is starting monitoring for Zebra and Quagga Mussels within Alberta’s Irrigation Districts this year. I’m also involved on committees looking at water storage opportunities within the South Saskatchewan River Basin, and in modelling to improve reservoir management.”

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