b"Watering the West IRRIGATION IS AN important part of potato growing across Canada. And on the Prairies, multiple irrigation infrastructure projects are currently happening. In Alberta, the province is in the midst of an almost billion-dollar project to modernize its irrigation infrastructure, while their eastern neighbour in Saskatchewan are expanding their irrigation system around Lake Diefenbaker.Southern Albertas irrigation system has kept crops growing no matter the weather for more than a century. Over the years, the irrigation districts have updated their systems to keep them running. However, now through a new partnership with the province, the irrigation infrastructure is undergoing a massive update.Irrigation is in the fabric of southern Alberta. And this just helps us manage a really important resource in a very effective and responsible way, David Westwood, general manager of the St. Mary River Irrigation District (SMRID), explains in a phone interview. Our whole mandatethrough when we expand and want to be able to add acres to southern Albertawill be that were doing it with the same or even less water than we have been currently using.In Saskatchewan, the province is working to expand their irrigation infrastructure by 500,000 acres over the next decade.We're still at pretty early stages in early days, somethingThe eight mile lateral irrigation modernization pipeline project in the of this magnitude is going to take time, Patrick Boyle,St. Mary River Irrigation District was completed in winter 2019/2020. spokesperson for the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency, saysPHOTOS: ST. MARY RIVER IRRIGATION DISTRICTin a phone interview. At the end of the day, it's for the people of Saskatchewan. I'll be built by the people of Saskatchewan. So, it's for kind of a transformational look for our province.Modernizing Albertas Irrigation SystemThere are 13 irrigation districts within Alberta, mainly concentrated in the southern part of the province, covering 1.5 million acres with 42 storage reservoirs. A report from the Alberta Irrigation Districts Association published in November 2021 titled The Economic Value of Albertas Irrigation Districts, found that between 2011 to 2018, irrigation from the area annually generated $5.4 billion to provincial GDP, $3.2 billion in labour income and supported about 46,000 full-time jobs.It was also found irrigation district land represent only 4.4 per cent of Albertas cultivated land base, but generate 27 per cent of the provinces total primary agricultural sales and contribute 28 per cent to Albertas total agri-food GDP. The study also examined the impact of irrigation infrastructure funding on government revenues. It was found that for every dollar invested by the Alberta government on irrigation district related activities added $3.56 in revenue to the provincial government.In the spring of 2020, the Alberta government put out a call for stimulus project ideas. At the time, irrigation districts in the province had been planning various upgrades to their systems, but when they saw the callout they realized they could complete their projects with government support on a shorter timeline.SPUDSMART.COM Winter 202229"