The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) is waiting in anticipation for the launch of the $4 billion Lake Diefenbaker Irrigation project.
Once the project is completed, SARM president Ray Orb believes the Rural Municipalities and farmers will reap the benefits as well as the entire province.
“We'll find a place in the market hopefully competing with some of the other countries that we import from in the sense it will obviously make us a lot more sustainable and that's the goal. It's to help the entire province. It will adjust the GDP in a positive way quite dramatically in the end,” Orb said.
The project is expected to provide water and irrigation to over 500,000 acres of farm and grain land that will help improve food security. It's estimated that the irrigation expansion will increase the province’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $40 to $80 billion.
It was noted that some RMs will benefit from the project as they have suffered drought conditions over the last few years.
The Government of Saskatchewan announced the Lake Diefenbaker Irrigation Project in 2020. The project is broken up into three phases.
Phase one is the most shovel-ready part of the project. It is rehabilitating the existing canals and infrastructure that is already in place on the westside of the lake but was never completed. According to SARM, 90 per cent of the canals are already in place.
Phase two will expand the westside irrigation into the Zealandia, Delisle, Vanscoy and Asquith areas.
Finally, phase three is the Qu’Appelle South Water Conveyance Project that would expand the reach to the Tugaske, Eyebrow and Marquis areas all the way to Buffalo Pound Lake using a new canal system.
Orb said SARM last received an update from Jeremy Cockrill, minister responsible for Water Security Agency, last year.
“We were given a report then and we're asking now for another report on the status of the expansion projects. Probably we're going to be hearing something about that at our summer convention, which is coming up in less than a month,” Orb said.
You can find more about the Lake Diefenbaker Irrigation Project here.