Sask. water program extended

Producers and communities who couldn’t complete projects approved under the 2008 Saskatchewan Farm and Ranch Water Infrastructure program have been given a reprieve.

A shortage of contractors has led to an extension of the completion deadline to Nov. 1, 2010.

The federal and provincial governments announced the one-year extension Sept. 21.

Provincial agriculture minister Bob Bjornerud said about one-third of the 3,400 approved projects were in danger of not being completed.

“Demand just outstripped the availability of contractors,” he said.

The projects include on-farm wells, community wells, pipelines and dugouts in 65 designated rural municipalities in the southwest.

Earlier this year, the governments doubled the program’s spending allocation to about $29 million.

David Anderson, Cypress Hills-Grasslands MP and parliamentary secretary for the Canadian Wheat Board, said the wells will make a long-term difference in water availability and quality.

The extension means the governments won’t have to pay money until they are completed.

The program is now funded under Growing Forward and includes the entire province. The application deadline for new projects is August 2012 and projects must be complete by 2013.

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