Don Christy, a Jackson, Miss., native who has spent much of his career working on water-related issues across the Southeast, has been named the new executive director of the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta Water Management District.
Dr. Christy succeeds Dean Pennington, a former Mississippi State University agronomist who led the Stoneville, Miss.-based YMD Water Management District for 26 years before his retirement in December. The YMD is responsible for conserving water supplies in the Delta region.
Before assuming the new post, Dr. Christy was serving as interim director of the Bureau of Plant Industry in the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce. For several years before that, he served as chief of staff for the Region IV Headquarters for the Environmental Protection Agency under another Mississippi native, Jimmy Palmer.
Earlier in his career, Dr. Christy worked with Palmer, then director of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the Mississippi Legislature on environmental protection and water resource management policy issues.
“Water resource issues are often long-term challenges and concerns,” said Dr. Christy. “So you have to look back over an extended time period to see how you’ve gotten to where you are and what kind of improvements might need to be made to get onto a path that is more productive and to resolve those issues.”
He said there are a number of areas of inter-connectedness between farmers’ use of crop protection chemicals and water supplies, although the YMDWMD does not address water quality issues in its work.
Dr. Christy and his staff were wrapping up the final details for meeting the Feb. 1 deadline for reporting water usages for 10 percent of the irrigation wells in the Delta region when he was interviewed near the end of January. The 17 Delta counties exceeded the 10-percent level.
“I believe water use is going to remain a most significant challenge for years to come,” he said. “There are opportunities to make an impact and address some challenges through conservation and irrigation efficiency and other means.
“I want to be part of that equation, and work with partners like DEQ, the U.S. Geological Survey, USDA-ARS, MSU, the Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Delta Council, Delta F.A.R.M., and the Mississippi Farm Bureau to come up with options for dealing with these challenges.
He holds an undergraduate degree in chemistry from the University of Southern Mississippi; a master’s degree in conservation ecology from the University of Georgia; and a doctorate in ecology from the University of Georgia. Both his master’s and doctoral research focused on water resources policy.
The 17 counties that make up the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta Water Management District are Humphreys, Holmes, Tate, Carroll, Desoto, Panola, Issaquena, Yazoo, Sharkey, Tunica, Quitman, Tallahatchie, Coahoma, Leflore, Washington, Sunflower and Bolivar.
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