The Lethbridge Northern Irrigation District (LNID) has been advised a deal has been reached between the Alberta government and the Chief and Council of the Peigan Nation that will allow water from the Oldman River dam to begin to flow to users in the district.
In a notice distributed to users late Tuesday (April 26), the district said it is expected Alberta Environment will open the gates at 10am Wednesday morning.
Alberta Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development Minister Nate Horner also confirmed the deal in a tweet late Tuesday.
“I’m relieved to share that Alberta’s government and the Piikani Nation have reached an agreement ensuring water flows to agriculture producers in the Lethbridge North Irrigation District,” said Horner.
Many of the details have not been made public, and accounts of what happened differ, but the Piikani Nation and Alberta government had been meeting for months to resolve water-related issues.
The LNID, however, was surprised to find out last week that it would not be getting water when it was expecting it, creating sudden concern about water availability for livestock and other users relying on water via the irrigation system. The district supplies water to many feedlots and approximately 200 thousand acres of irrigated cropland.
Multiple sources told RealAgriculture that members of the Piikani Nation were preventing water from flowing, however chief Stan Grier said that was not true, and that no water was blocked.
Terms of the deal between the province and the First Nation have not been made public, as of late April 26.