As part of the Alberta government’s $10 million Irrigation Rehabilitation Program, the St. Mary’s River Irrigation District (SMRID) will receive an allotted $2.6 million in funds to address water infrastructure. The irrigation district provides water for irrigation and agricultural operations, municipal use, recreation and wildlife and habitat enhancement.
“Crumbling infrastructure on the St. Mary River network highlights the importance of on-going maintenance and rehabilitation,” says Devin Dreeshen, minister for agriculture and forestry. “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.”
Alberta’s irrigation industry supports approximately 56,000 full time jobs annually and contributes about $2.4 billion in labour income to the province. “Irrigation is essential to the lives and livelihoods of thousands of Albertans and the Alberta government is committed to support this important industry,” says Grant Hunter, associate minister of red tape reduction. “This grant to St. Mary River Irrigation District will help ensure southern Albertans continue continue to have reliable domestic water, aquatic habitats and recreational areas,” Hunter adds.
Alberta government investments through the Irrigation Rehabilitation program are matched by districts at a ratio of 75 per cent government to 25 per cent district. “We appreciate the funding we’re receiving through the Irrigation Rehabilitation program,” says George Lohues, board chair of the St. Mary River district. The district supports a rich and varied abundance of crops, says Lohues.