Work will immediately begin to build irrigation infrastructure for Lake Diefenbaker for up to 500,000 acres of land, the Saskatchewan government announced in a news release on July 2.
The project will more than double Saskatchewan’s irrigable land. It will begin with an immediate $22.5 million investment in preliminary engineering and initial construction, with continued to project construction expected to occur approximately over the next 10 years in three main phases at a cost estimated at $4 billion.
“The announcement of this generational project will see the vision of Lake Diefenbaker completed over the course of the next decade,” Scott Moe, premier of Saskatchewan says in the news release. “By doubling the amount of irrigable land in our province, this project will be a massive step in completing the goals our government has set out in our 2030 Growth Plan.”
Phase one will include the rehabilitation and expansion of the existing Westside irrigation canal system. This work will increase the amount of irrigable land by 80,000 acres in the area, the releasee notes. It is considered one of the most shovel ready irrigation projects in the province with 90 per cent of the current canal already in place.
Phase two will see the further expansion and buildout of the Westside Irrigation Project, adding an additional 260,000 acres of irrigable land. Once fully built and developed, the project will eventually see land made available for irrigation near Macrorie, Milden, Zealandia, and as far north as Delisle and Asquith.
Phase 3 will see the buildout of the Qu’Appelle South Irrigation Project, adding an estimated 120,000 acres of irrigable land, the release says. Starting at Lake Diefenbaker and going south, the project would run near the communities of Tugaske, Eyebrow, down to Marquis and into Buffalo Pound Lake. It would provide the Moose Jaw-Regina corridor and southern Saskatchewan with a secure source of water for the next century and act as a catalyst for significant industrial expansion in the years to come.
“I look forward to working with producers, industry and government partners to expand irrigation capacity in Saskatchewan,” David Marit, provincial agriculture minister, says in the release. “From diversifying crop production and attracting more value-added processing, to benefitting local economies and adding to our long-term food security, increased irrigation opportunities support a profitable and sustainable economy.”
Preliminary soil quality analysis of the Qu’Appelle South Irrigation Project area will also begin this year, along with phase one the release says.