Ag water management COVID-19 funding

Saskatchewan’s main irrigation channel is getting new equipment to help clean the water and maintain the environment.

The provincial government is investing $2.5 million in travelling screens for the canal in the South Saskatchewan River Irrigation District.

It’s part of an $8.3-million economic stimulus package for the Water Security Agency through the government’s COVID-19 response.

Saskatchewan Irrigation Projects Association chair Aaron Gray said the SSRID has for about the last 20 years used Magnacide H to control algae in the canal.

But concern about how the in-water herbicide might affect aquatic habitat led to seeking different solutions.

“It’s a conveyor,” he explained when asked how the screens work. “The water flows through and the screens rotate the algae and weeds out and deposits them on the ground.”

The plant material could be collected and composted.

The equipment is placed before culverts, he said, and will help irrigators be more efficient and safer.

Five other projects were part of the stimulus package.

Minister responsible for the WSA Greg Ottenbreit said $2.5 million will also be spent to upgrade the conveyance canal and pump infrastructure at Pike Lake south of Saskatoon.

Agricultural water management projects will get $1.5 million to deal with things like erosion control. Rural municipalities, conservation and development area authorities and watershed associations will have access to $600,000 for channel clearing.

Ottenbreit said channel clearing is a popular request.

“We’ve gotten a lot of interest in that already,” he said shortly after the money was announced.

WSA spokesperson Patrick Boyle said many requests were from producers in the northern grainbelt to help deal with beaver dams and debris.

The other funding includes $500,000 for municipalities to work on flood mapping and long-term mitigation and $750,000 to upgrade stop log handling systems in six control structures around the province.

All projects are expected to be complete within two years.

karen.briere@producer.com

 

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