May 29th, 2024

Irrigators vote to combine SMRID and Taber Irrigation districts

By Collin Gallant SOUTHERN ALBERTA NEWSPAPERS on October 30, 2021.


Irrigators along the Highway 3 corridor have voted in favour of amalgamating to create half-million acre district in stretching the length of Alberta’s rural south.
Officials with the St. Mary River Irrigation District and the Taber Irrigation District announced this summer they were in talks to combine the districts.
Voting that concluded last Friday showed SMRID members approved the merger by a count of 509 to 132, while the move passed by a slimmer majority among Taber Irrigation members, 126 to 104.
The districts must still officially petition the Alberta Minister of Agriculture to combine the entities in a move administrators say will lead to efficiencies.
“The process will take some time, but our goal is to officially be one district by the start of the next water season in the spring of 2022,” reads a statement from SMRID general manager David Westwood to members of the district that extends from Milk River to Medicine Hat.
Currently, Taber receives bulk water from the SMRID system and the two organizations are partners in the IRRICAN power cooperative, along with the Raymond Irrigation District.
The combined district would have a total of just more that 500,000 acres under irrigation, 15 storage reservoirs and almost 2,200 kilometres of pipeline and canal right of way.
The districts are currently undertaking a 27-project capital plan that would cost $168 million to modernize the system and prevent an estimated 40,000 acre-feet of leakage each year.
A separate $133-million expansion of the Chin reservoir is planned with the goal of adding between 75,000 and 100,000 acre-feet of storage.
Both are financed by the districts, a provincial grant and financing from the Canada Infrastructure Bank, which was announced in late 2020.
Second RenuWell permit approved
Utility regulators approved this week the second IRRICAN project that would see a near one-megawatt solar array erected on an orphaned oil well site near Fincastle, east of Taber.
Irricann is the owner of the project developed by RenuWell and built in partnership with several groups to sell power while reclaiming the site.

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