Proposed Acadia irrigation project extended to cover 108,000 acres

·1 min read

The Municipal District of Acadia No. 34 has been discussing an irrigation project for decades.

The first irrigation development study report was issued in 2005 but a lack of outside funding caused the project to stall.

“In 2019, we received some provincial grant funding to update the study and brought costing up to date to determine if the project was still feasible,” explained Jason Wallsmith, chief administrative officer.

The original project had a cost of $138 million for 27,000 acres of irrigated land but has now been extended to 108,000 acres at a cost of $1.3 billion.

“Staging of the project still needs to be finalized, we are still in that conceptual phase. That would be the next work done, finalizing feasibility work, and starting to plan the project on how it gets developed,” said Wallsmith.

Preliminary design will be the next stage of work to be done and will start this fall. Wallsmith believes that work will be completed within the next two years.

Irrigation will transform the existing dryland agriculture in the area where majority of the district receives less than 255 mm of rain and averages between 1,300-1,400 growing degree days each year.

“Throughout its history, the Municipal District of Acadia has been an agriculturally driven community with an entrepreneurial spirit,” Reeve Peter Rafa said in a recent press release. “Irrigation development in the region will allow producers to take advantage of good soils and consistent heat to grow a broad range of crops and increase the production of farmland.”

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SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News