The Irrigation District Engineering and Assistance program is a part of the Irrigation Technology Program of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department.
Current activities are focused on providing technical assistance to irrigation districts in Texas as requested, and conducting research into a UAV-based platform for detection of leaks in irrigation canals and underground pipelines.
The Irrigation District Engineering and Assistance (IDEA) Program first began in 1990s with projects to introduce surge flow irrigation and lay-flat tubing into two districts located in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas and to determine changes needed in district operations to ensure the success of these technologies.
In 1996, the program expanded into GIS (geographical information system) mapping and use for improved district management. Beginning in 1998, the IDEA program was tapped to provide an analysis of water losses and potential savings for a series of regional water planning efforts, concentrating on districts located in the Texas-Mexico border regions.
In 2001, we began receiving support through the “Improving Irrigation Efficiency and Water Conservation in the Rio Grande Basin Initiative,” a US Congressional funded initiative jointly administrated through New Mexico State and Texas A&M University’s agricultural program which continued to 2012. Our programs were expanded to include technical assistance, district modernization demonstrations, training programs, and research projects.
Since 2012, we have continued these programs supported through contracts and grants, and fee-based programs.