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Government funds rehab work in irrigation districts

Agriculture and Forestry Minister Davin Dreeshen and Grant Hunter, associate minister of red tape reduction, announced more than $2.6-million for rehabilitation projects in the St. Mary River Irrigation District.

Two southern Alberta irrigation districts last week received more than $3.7-million for rehabilitation projects.

The rehabilitation work includes lining unlined canals and converting canals to pipelines.

“We appreciate the funding we’re receiving through the Irrigation Rehabilitation Program,” said George Lohues, board chairman of the St. Mary River Irrigation District. “St. Mary River Irrigation District supports a rich and varied abundance of crops, providing southern Alberta with a steady and vibrant economy even during these difficult times.”

“This grant supports our ongoing work to deliver water more efficiently to our communities and proudly serve the farms, businesses and people in southern Alberta.”

John Vandenberg, board chair, Lethbridge Northern Irrigation District, echoed those comments.

“This funding will help ensure our infrastructure remains strong and can keep up with demand now and in the future,” Vandenberg said.

Agriculture and Forestry Minister Davin Dreeshen and Grant Hunter, associate minister of red tape reduction, made the announce ment Aug. 4.

The grants are part of Alberta’s $10-million Irrigation Rehabilitation Program.

“Crumbling infrastructure on the St. Mary River network highlights the importance of ongoing maintenance and rehabilitation. Alberta’s government will continue to invest in irrigation to attract value-added food processors that will create full-time jobs and expand our economy,” Dreeshen said.

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.

Government of Alberta investments through the program are matched by districts at a ratio of 75 per cent government to 25 per cent district.

St. Mary River Irrigation District is receiving $2,651,848 from the program.

Lethbridge Northern Irrigation District received $1.1-million.

“Irrigation is essential to the lives and livelihoods of thousands of Albertans and the Alberta government is committed to support this important industry,” Hunter said.

Every year, Alberta’s irrigation industry supports about 56,000 full-time jobs and contributes about $2.4-billion in labour income.

The irrigation sector also provides $3.6-billion in GDP annually to Alberta’s economy every year.

Alberta’s irrigated land makes up almost 70 per cent of all irrigated acres in Canada.

Within Alberta’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.

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