Annette Kirkpatrick wasn’t the obvious choice to lead Hermiston Irrigation District(HID). She’d been the district business manager for over a decade, but the irrigation district manager position was traditionally a hands-on role that had been the domain of men. The rigors of field work and wrangling crew had often been touted as core job requirements, but as Hermiston’s urban/agriculture balance continued to feel the strain of new growth, creative thinking and problem solving were two traits that started to become more prized. With a front-row seat to witness those changing demands, Annette never wavered in her belief that not only could she lead the district, she could find the way forward on projects that had seemed stalled. In 2015 she became the manager at Hermiston Irrigation District.
Hermiston Irrigation District provides water to one of the most lucrative productive agricultural regions in Oregon, with watermelons being the backbone of the ag economy. The District has a complex matrix of feeder canals, ditches and lines, most of them open and inefficient. During certain times of the year they rely on the Umatilla River to store water in Cold Springs Reservoir. Plus, there are a web of agencies and stakeholders invested in the district’s water: farmers and patrons, the Bureau of Reclamation, the City of Hermiston, Umatilla County, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR), and a National Wildlife Refuge.
In her six years at the helm, Annette’s leadership has guided not only the day-to-day operations but also the development and implementation of modernization projects critical to maintaining Hermiston’s way of life going forward, for all stakeholders.
Farmers Conservation Alliance is supporting HID’s efforts to pipe the entire B Line, which will save over 2,000 acres of stored water from Cold Spring Reservoir every year.