Around $750,000 in government funding was announced for the Taber Irrigation District on Thursday, from federal and provincial levels.
Of this, $205,000 comes from a partnership between Canada and Alberta as part of the Canadian Agriculture Partnership (CAP) grant, and $547,000 directly from Alberta’s $10 million Irrigation Rehabilitation Program.
This announcement comes two days after $2.6 million was announced for improvements to the St. Mary Irrigation District, and one day after $1.1 million went to the Lethbridge Northern Irrigation District.
Grant Hunter, MLA for Taber-Warner, says the economy’s rough shape as a result of COVID-19 was a catalyst for the project.
“Alberta’s government takes this industry very seriously and is committed to making the necessary investments to keep southern Alberta the irrigation capital of Canada.”
The goals of the new funding include ensuring continued innovation, growth, and prosperity within the agriculture industry, and mitigating the risk of flooding.
Jeremy Wind, manager of Windiana Farms in Taber, said that without irrigation, many of their crops would not be viable.
“In this area, without irrigation, would could not grow any of the high-value crops,” he said. “The potatoes, the sugar beets, the seed canola. Any of that would not be possible.”
Wind says the new funding is a welcome addition to the Taber area.
“It will allow us to continually upgrade the irrigation system and eventually lead to more irrigated land, something that’s in high-demand right now,” Wind added.
According to MLA Grant Hunter, the CAP funding will be broken down as follows:
- $75,000 to assess, select, install and commission a centralized supervisory control and data acquisition system to track water orders and use
- $55,000 to identify opportunities to collect, treat, and reuse runoff and develop the east Horsefly drain system
- $40,000 for asset and critical condition management
- $35,000 for aquatic weed mitigation at the Fincastle Reservoir
Seventy per cent of Canada’s irrigation is located in southern Alberta.