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Local Business Benefits From
Irrigation Canal Rehab

Eric Heuver, owner of Eagle Lake Turf Farms Ltd., says the current rehabilitation project of the Western Irrigation District (WID) Secondary A Canal through Strathmore will enable his business to grow.

“We are excited about the project and appreciate that the expansion option will now be open to us,” states Heuver. The increased efficiency of the rehabilitated irrigation canal will provide opportunities and potential for additional jobs in the region.

“Access to irrigation waters provided through the WID is vital to our operation. Our turf business would not exist without WID irrigation,” explains Heuver. Eagle Lake Turf Farms Ltd. operations rely on the WID Secondary A Canal to supply water for sod production.

Eagle Lake Turf Farms Ltd. grows sod on approximately 300 hectares just east of Strathmore, shipping about 120 hectares of sod to customers each year. The company employs about 35 people from the Strathmore area and recently expanded operations with the opening of a landscaping supply store in Calgary. The irrigation systems used on the turf farm are automated, centre pivot, high efficiency, low pressure systems.

Heuver sees the rehabilitation of the canal as advantageous to their business, particularly early and late in the season when the water volumes in the canal are typically low. The WID has to increase the volume of water flowing through the system to bring the water to accessible levels early and late in the season. With the rehabilitated canal, reliability and efficiency will improve and intakes will function without the necessity for increased flows at the nose and tail ends of the season. Heuver looks forward to a day when the canal will be rebuilt all the way to his gate.

Heuver noted that one drawback of rehabilitation involves removing trees in the canal right of way, taking away from the aesthetics of the area. The WID must remove trees because roots of trees and perennials tend to puncture the canal liner and compromise its integrity.

Heuver notes however, “The benefits of the rehabilitated canal and the added water savings help rationalize the practicality and necessity of the project. It will not only benefit our turf production but the improved efficiency will be a benefit to other water users, the economy and the environment.”

The Secondary A Canal rebuild, the WID canal running along Thomas Drive in Strathmore, will bring it up to modern standards reducing water losses for improved water efficiency. Improving efficiencies means less water to produce the same amount of crop or that more area under irrigation uses the same amount of water. The construction will reshape the canal, line it with a special plastic liner and cover the banks in armour.

The WID is a major water user in a restricted river basin. The rehabilitation of its main canals falls in line with the Alberta Government Water For Life Strategy that places water conservation as first priority for all major water users in Alberta.

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Links to related websites

Thanks to Irrigation

Alberta Irrigation Projects Association

Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development

Bow River Basin Council

Irrigation Districts in Alberta

Irrigation Management Climate Information Network

Alberta Irrigation Management Model

Water Hauler's Bulletin

Lethbridge Irrigation Development Center

The Alberta Farmers Market Association

Farmers' Markets Canada

The Hyrdro Files, from Aquality Environmental Consulting Ltd.