Glacier FarmMedia COVID-19 & the Farm

Sask. irrigation capacity expansion funded

Three irrigation districts around Saskatchewan’s Lake Diefenbaker plan to expand their total irrigation capacity by 15,000 acres using federal and provincial funding.

“Our irrigation district has been attempting to expand for several years and were almost ready to show significant growth until the financial crisis hit,” Grant Pederson, board chairman for the South Saskatchewan River Irrigation District (SSRID), said in a government release Thursday.

“This grant will provide the needed capital to assist us to boost our irrigated acres and provide long-term sustainable growth in our community.”

“This funding will help our district further irrigation plans and provide irrigation to younger farmers to develop their land,” Riverhurst Irrigation District vice-chair Dale Ewan added. “In the future, the community hopes to attract agricultural industries.”

Total federal funding of $4.77 million is being provided under the Community Adjustment Fund, administered by the Western Economic Diversification agency. Of that, the SSRID and Riverhurst district will each get $1.44 million; another $1.89 million goes to the Luck Lake Irrigation District.

The provincial government, meanwhile, will put up $530,000, of which $210,000 is for the Luck Lake project and $160,000 each for the Riverhurst and SSRID projects.

Funding for these projects will go to hire contractors to design and build the distribution works and install pipelines and associated materials for water delivery, the governments said.

The individual irrigation districts, meanwhile, are to oversee the purchase and installation of power grids and pumps to service their respective project areas.

The three irrigation districts are all part of the Lake Diefenbaker Development Area. Higher-value crops grown in the area using irrigation from the lake and South Saskatchewan River have included potatoes, dry beans, timothy hay, corn silage, canola and alfalfa hay.

“Impacted”

The SSRID will work with the Town of Outlook and RMs of Rudy, Loreburn, Fertile Valley and Rosedale to expand their irrigation capacity by 7,000 acres, resulting in 28 long-term jobs and sustaining 105 jobs in the irrigation industry, the governments said.

The SSRID uses a system of canals and minor laterals to supply over 35,000 acres of irrigated land; the Outlook area also has two regional water supply pipelines to supply rural homes and agribusinesses.

The Riverhurst district, which includes the towns of Riverhurst and Central Butte and RMs of Enfield and Maple Bush, south of Lake Diefenbaker, will increase its access to irrigation by 4,000 acres, creating 10-11 short-term jobs and 16 long-term jobs and sustaining 59 jobs. The district, the governments noted, is “in an area of the province impacted by Canada’s economic downturn.”

The Riverhurst district has a pressurized pipeline which supplies irrigators, a regional park and a local golf course with water from Lake Diefenbaker and also supplies a consistent flow of “good-quality” water to Thunder Creek.

The Luck Lake district, working with the towns of Lucky Lake and Birsay and RMs of Coteau and Canaan, will increase access to irrigation by 4,000 acres, also creating 10-11 short-term jobs and 16 long-term jobs and sustaining 59 jobs. The governments noted the area has been “affected by the loss of over 60 jobs attributed to business closures in the pork industry.”

The Luck Lake district also pumps water from Lake Diefenbaker through a pressurized pipeline system to irrigators. As well, it supplies water to the Luck Lake Heritage Marsh, which the province describes as “one of the largest Ducks Unlimited projects in North America.” A separate district pipeline supplies Birsay and an “extensive” regional water supply line.

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