Irrigation has the potential to improve entire landscapes, communities and agricultural operations, bringing much-needed water to areas that need it.
On top of providing crop, livestock and food processing operations with water, it also supplies municipalities, recreational areas, wetlands and wildlife habitats.
With that in mind, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, through its Agri-Food Sector Investment and Growth Strategy, the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB), the Special Areas Board (SAB) and the MD of Acadia, have reached a memorandum of understanding to assess the technical and financial feasibility of developing irrigation in east-central Alberta.
For the MD of Acadia and the SAB, this feasibility study is the next step in work that has been underway since the ’80s.
Together, the Special Areas and the MD of Acadia cover over five million acres of land between the Hand Hills and the Saskatchewan border.
‘“The Council and staff of the MD of Acadia are excited to be partnering with the aforementioned to investigate regional irrigation development opportunities,” said Peter Rafa, Reeve of the MD of Acadia.
“Irrigation would bring major economic benefits to our whole region and to producers in it and would increase water security while enhancing recreational opportunities.”
Special Areas Board chair Jordon Christianson added, “Securing a reliable supply of water is critical to creating new opportunities in the Special Areas region, from increasing crop and cattle production to mitigating environmental challenges resulting from drought and climate change.
“This partnership will allow our region to look at how we can develop and expand irrigation in a financially feasible way.”
The irrigation industry creates thousands of jobs and contributes billions every year to Alberta’s agri-food gross domestic product.
Last fall, the Alberta Government, together with the CIB and eight irrigation districts, announced a historic $815-million investment in irrigation expansion and modernization.
The eight irrigation districts participating in the investment include: Bow River Irrigation District, Eastern Irrigation District, Lethbridge Northern Irrigation District, Raymond Irrigation District, St. Mary River Irrigation District, Taber Irrigation District, United Irrigation District and Western Irrigation District.
‘“Alberta has a well-earned reputation for high-quality crops and livestock, much of which is grown in east-central Alberta. This feasibility study will help us determine if expanding irrigation is possible, which could lead to even more production in our province,” said Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry.”