Keeping irrigation infrastructure strong

L to R: United Irrigation District chair Duane Nelson, Minister Dreeshen and MLA Joseph Schow announce Irrigation Rehabilitation Program funding.

This grant will ensure the district can continue to improve infrastructure that provides water for irrigation and agricultural operations, municipal use, recreation, wildlife and habitat enhancement.

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.

“Water is vital to the province’s ongoing agricultural success and the Irrigation Rehabilitation Program grant will ensure water infrastructure is upgraded to ensure maximum efficiency. Alberta grows some of the best food in the world and water is critical to our continued economic success as an agricultural powerhouse.”

Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry

“When we turn on taps, water is always readily available. What makes that possible is the tremendous infrastructure and expertise that it takes to manage it. Funding from this program will help ensure that municipalities across southern Alberta will continue to have a reliable water source for people, producers, aquatic habitats and recreational areas.”

Joseph Schow, MLA for Cardston-Siksika

“Since 1919, the United Irrigation District has been providing water effectively to local farmers and ranchers to grow and supply food for the world. This funding will help ensure our infrastructure remains strong and that our producers can continue to put food on plates around the globe.”

Duane Nelson, board chair, United Irrigation District

Pipelines are a reliable water delivery method and increase water management efficiency. IRP grants support better water security and availability. Producers pay for water on a per acre basis and effective infrastructure ensures they are getting good value for their money and that water is available for irrigation, value-added processing and other uses.

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.

Started in 1969, the Irrigation Rehabilitation Program provides cost-shared funds to irrigation districts to rehabilitate irrigation infrastructure. Alberta’s government contributes 75 per cent of the cost and the district contributes 25 per cent.

Alberta’s Recovery Plan is a bold, ambitious long-term strategy to build, diversify, and create tens of thousands of jobs now. By building schools, roads and other core infrastructure we are benefitting our communities. By diversifying our economy and attracting investment with Canada’s most competitive tax environment, we are putting Alberta on a path for a generation of growth. Alberta came together to save lives by flattening the curve and now we must do the same to save livelihoods, grow and thrive.

Quick facts

  • Alberta’s irrigation industry creates about 56,000 full-time jobs and contributes about $2.4 billion in labour income annually.
    • The irrigation sector also adds $3.6 billion in annual GDP to Alberta’s economy every year.
  • Alberta’s irrigated land makes up almost 70 per cent of all irrigated acres in Canada.
  • Within the province’s irrigation districts, there are more than 42 reservoirs and about 7,600 kilometres of conveyance works, including canals and pipelines, which carry almost two billion cubic metres of water per year.
  • As part of Budget 2020-21, the Government of Alberta is granting a total of $10 million to the province’s irrigation districts through the cost-shared Irrigation Rehabilitation Program.

Alberta's Recovery Plan


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