Province can expand irrigated farmland
By Regina Leader-Post
NEWS HIGHLIGHTProvince can expand irrigated farmland
A report on farm land useage in Saskatchewan indicates the province can support up to two million acres of irrigated land, and that work will begin soon to develop the necessary system to make that happen.
A new report says Saskatchewan can support up to two million acres of irrigated farmland and work should start soon to develop such an economically beneficial system, says its supporters.
The Lake Diefenbaker region, in particular, has the ability to support 500,000 additional irrigation acres, says the Saskatchewan Irrigation Projects Association (SIPA). A 20 year, $2.9 billion spending program for regional water distribution works at the lake would result in a $33 billion increase to the provincial GDP over a 40 year period, the group says in its new report: Time to Irrigate.
"The investments that were made (at Lake Diefenbaker) in the 1950s and '60s and would be worth billions of dollars today have never been fully used, and what the report says is it's good economics, it's good for the environment and it's good for society to develop this," said the report's project manager, Graham Parsons, vice-president development with Clifton Associates Ltd.
The opening of the Gardiner Dam in 1967 led to the expansion of irrigation around Lake Diefenbaker, which now supports about 100,000 acres. Provincewide, about 350,000 acres of farmland are served by irrigation systems, said Parsons.
Expanded irrigation systems would not only assist agricultural endeavours but attract value-added processing and help stop rural depopulation, Parsons said.
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