Irrigation is the Economic Lifeblood of Southern Alberta and its Agriculture: How much Water will you use today? Can Technology support increased Efficiency?

As the largest irrigation district by irrigated acres in Canada, St Mary River Irrigation District (SMRID) has licenses to divert water from the St. Mary, Waterton and Belly rivers. The total volume of SMRID’s allowable diversion is 722,000 ac/ft. or about 890 million cubic meters of water. On average however, the SMRID diverts only around 50 per cent of its total license. One of its licenses now allows for not only water for irrigation as originally conceived, but for other uses such as municipal, industrial, recreational and environmental. It must be noted though, the SMRID does not allow water to be used for well injection.

Investment by the district and irrigators to improve the efficiency of transport and application of water to crops has facilitated reduced diversion volumes, while irrigated acreage has increased. Almost all of the reservoirs within the SMRID system have the benefit of opportunistic recreational use. Ridge, Sauder, Forty Mile and Stafford reservoirs are heavily used and some include public camping and boat launch facilities.

SMRID has the ability to efficiently deliver water to more than 2,000 irrigators, who irrigate nearly 400,000 acres of land. This is done by diverting almost 400,000 ac/ft. of water per year through 2,100 kilometers of canals and pipeline. The speaker will give an overview of irrigation impacts on this region and explain how improved infrastructure and technology opportunities has benefitted irrigators in the St. Mary Projects. He will also speculate on future challenges irrigation districts might be facing.

Speaker: Terrence Lazarus

Terrence is currently the General Manager at St. Mary River Irrigation District, a job he has held for the past five years. He was born in Zimbabwe and educated in Civil Engineering Technology in South Africa. His exposure to irrigation and water management started after he graduated and worked in Malawi, Central Africa, constructing a canal system for a large sugar cane plantation.

Terrence’s experience in Canada started in 1982 when he inspected the construction of the Lethbridge Northern Main Canal and other water management infrastructure in southern Alberta while he was employed by the Alberta Government. Terrence progressed up the Government ranks and retired as the Operations manager for Alberta Environment in charge of the operations of dams and canals south of Calgary, including the Oldman River Dam and St. Mary Dam among others.

Moderator: Klaus Jericho

Date: Thursday, November 7, 2019 Time: Doors open 11:30 am, Presentation 12 noon, buffet lunch 12:30 pm, Q&A 1 – 1:30 pm Location: Royal Canadian Legion (north door) 324 Mayor Magrath Dr. S. Lethbridge Cost: $14 buffet lunch with dessert/coffee/tea/juice or $2 coffee/tea/juice. RSVP not required.

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