Water set to flow Lake Diefenbaker in Saskatchewan

In 2020, the Government of Saskatchewan announced the Lake Diefenbaker Irrigation Project, a significant water management endeavour to support over 500,000 acres of agricultural land.

This initiative, backed by federal and provincial funds, aims to address drought issues that have plagued many rural municipalities (RMs) in recent years, enhancing the sustainability of their farmland and the economic well-being of rural communities.

The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) and its member RMs have been staunch advocates for the project’s swift implementation. With Phase 1 in Division 5 nearly ready to go – 90% of the necessary canal infrastructure was in place as of 2023 – stakeholders are eager for updates on when water will start flowing.

The project’s benefits extend beyond irrigation. It’s expected to stimulate economic growth in several smaller communities, create construction jobs, facilitate farm expansion, and increase traffic to these areas. Phase 2, Project 2 Westside, will further expand the irrigated land by 260,000 acres, compounding these benefits.

Ray Orb, President of SARM, emphasized the project’s long-term positive impact on crop diversity and farm profitability. Following a year of agricultural disaster declarations due to drought, the urgency for this project’s completion has never been greater. “This project has been a long time and will positively impact rural municipalities. It will increase crop diversity and farm profitability through irrigation. We need to see Project 1 launch soon,” says Orb.

Saskatchewan’s producers are in dire need of this irrigation solution to enhance food production capabilities for both Canadian and global markets.

SARM’s call to the provincial government for a definitive opening date for Phase 1 reflects this project’s high anticipation and need. With most of the canal system ready, the time to act and see water flow is now, signalling a new era for Saskatchewan agriculture.

Photo Credit: Lake Diefenbaker Irrigation Project

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