Alberta irrigation district faces lack of water, again

(Kara Oosterhuis/RealAgriculture)

Update: As of May 5, 2023, there is still no definite timeline on the status of the repairs required for the Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation main canal leaks. In the interim, the board has approved for irrigation to flow from the Keho Reservoir, one inch of water for each irrigation acre, “on the basis that the one inch of usage will count as 3 inches of water usage out of the current year’s 17.5 inches of water allocation limit per irrigation acre.” No water transfers will be permitted until further notice.

The Lethbridge Northern Irrigation District (LNID), is facing hurdles at getting water to its users across the district for the second year in a row.

The LNID, which serves approximately 200,000 acres of irrigated cropland and provides water for much of Alberta’s “feedlot alley,” the largest concentration of cattle in Canada, has been shut off due to a break at the main canal.

According to a notice sent to all LNID water uses, the district was in the process of flushing canals and priming pipelines when they received notification of the leakage. On April 28, the district advised pond fills in the area where water was available, and as of May 3, 2023, the issue has not been resolved.

The canal leakage occurred prior to the flume from the Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation Main Canal, but as stated in the notice, “the district has no idea how long it will take to make the necessary repairs to the main canal.”

According to sources, the LNID met with Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation on May 2, 2023, to discuss how to get water flowing as soon as possible but the damage seems to be significant and is already not as quick of a repair as originally hoped.

We will continue to update the story as we learn more.

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