By Jensen, Randy on August 14, 2020.
LETHBRIDGE HERALD – RAYMOND
The Raymond Irrigation District has received a $271,432 grant as part of the Irrigation Rehabilitation Program (IRP).
The grant will ensure the Raymond Irrigation District will be able to continue to improve water infrastructure that provides water to agricultural operations, municipalities, recreational areas and wetland and upland wildlife habitats, the province said in a release.
IRP funds are often used to replace open-channel irrigation canals with buried underground pipelines that reduce water loss through seepage and evaporation. Water that would otherwise be lost is then available for irrigation and other uses. Pipelines are a reliable water delivery method and increase water management efficiency.
The province noted in the release that food companies around the world invest in areas with reliable irrigated farmland. These types of food processing investments create high paying jobs, increase agricultural trade and grow our economy.
“Alberta grows some of the best food in the world and water is critical to our continued economic success as an agricultural powerhouse,” said Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, in the release. “These grants through the Irrigation Rehabilitation Program are essential to allow them to continue feeding the world.”
Started in 1969, the Irrigation Rehabilitation Program is a long-standing grant program that provides cost-shared funds to irrigation districts to rehabilitate irrigation infrastructure including lining unlined canals, converting canals to pipelines and more.
“As well as supporting our farmers and ranchers and the food processing sectors they supply, this long-running program will ensure thousands of Albertans in municipalities across southern Alberta will continue to have reliable domestic water, aquatic habitats and recreational areas,” said Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter.
Raymond Irrigation District chairman John McKee gratefully accepted the grant.
“On behalf of the water users of the Raymond Irrigation District I wish to convey our gratitude to the government of Alberta for continuing to fund irrigation rehabilitation in southern Alberta. These funds are used in areas where all residents of the province will receive benefit.”
Alberta’s government investments through the program are matched by districts at a ratio of 75 per cent government to 25 per cent district.
Every year, Alberta’s irrigation industry creates about 56,000 full-time jobs and contributes about $2.4 billion in labour income, according to the release. The irrigation sector also adds $3.6 billion in annual GDP to Alberta’s economy every year.
Alberta’s irrigated land makes up nearly 70 per cent of all irrigated acres in Canada and within Alberta’s irrigation districts, there are more than 42 reservoirs and approximately 7,600 kilometres of conveyance works, including canals and pipelines, which carry nearly 2 billion cubic metres of water per year.
As part of Budget 2020-21, the Government of Alberta will grant a total of $10 million to the province’s irrigation districts through the Irrigation Rehabilitation Program.