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VOLUME 22 • NUMBER 2 • FALL 2018 • PRICE $3.50

Irrigating Alberta


IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Fall 2018 • 2

volume 22 • number 2 • Fall 2018 price $3.50

Contents

4

TID Watershed Projects presented at international conference Cooperative stormwater Management Initiative (CSMI) in the Western Irrigation Distric

6 10

Alberta has excellent irrigation water quality Irrigation districts work against establishment of invasive mussels

11-12 13-14 15

Alberta’s Irrigation Technology Centre Irrigation Districts Map (Southern Alberta)

HEAD OFFICE 1320 - 36TH STREET NORTH LETHBRIDGE, AB T1H 5H8 TOLL FREE: 1-877-328-0048 PHONE: 403-328-5114 EMAIL: info@farmpressmedia.com Reproduction or use of editorial content in any manner without written permission is strictly prohibited.

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IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Fall 2018 • 2

PUBLISHER: Mary Kemmis DESIGN & PRODUCTION: Jessica Crandall ADVERTISING CONSULTANTS: Al Such & Mel McDonald


IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Fall 2018 • 3

R.P.H. Irrigation Services Ltd. Lethbridge 403-328-0013

Strathmore 403-934-9690

Taber 403-223-8622


IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Fall 2018 • 4

TID Watershed Projects

Presented at International Conference By Christopher Gallagher Irrigation water quality is assessed through testing for parameters of concern such as nutrients, pesticides and certain bacteria. These parameters are carried during rain and snowmelt events and enter irrigation canals through drain inlets. High concentrations of nutrients can spur growth of aquatic weeds and algae that can overwhelm irrigation structures and clog onfarm pumps, filters and sprinkler heads, creating downtime and affecting crop performance. Irrigated agriculture relies on a social license to supply water that meets or exceeds the standards for irrigation use. Taber Irrigation District acknowledges their role in to protecting the integrity of the food supply system. TID presented two initiatives involving assessment and implementation of watershed-based solutions at the International Conference of the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage held August 12-17 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Drain Water Characterization Study Evan Hillman (Research Agrologist, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, Water Quality Section), presented TID’s recent efforts through a study entitled “Characterization of Water Quality from Drainage Sources”. The Irrigation District Water Quality monitoring program run by AAF’s Water Quality Section – and to which irrigation districts contribute funds – shows that water quality tends to degrade as it flows downstream within irrigation systems, and this is tied to land use. Surface drain water, being the most visible drain water source, comes from overland flows from fields, ditches, pastures, yards, etc. Subsurface drain water being out of sight, can be out of mind.

Tile drains receive water through the soil and include salts and nutrients. The study used two methods to characterize drainage water: 1) A synoptic study along Taber Lake Lateral canal analysed the contribution of each drain inlet on a wet and dry day.They found that when dry, the canal water quality was stable along its length, but when wet, key parameters increased, with noticeable degradation at 2 sites. 2) Sampling of tile drain systems was done monthly and correlated with their source field soil characteristics in the fall. This included supplemental samples from surface water, a return pipeline and a hemp straw tile drain bioreactor. They found that tile drains had higher concentrations of nitrogen fractions (Total Nitrogen, Nitrate) and salts (Total Dissolved Solids, SAR, Sulfate) and lower concentrations of Total Phosphorus, Sediments, E. Coli and pesticides. The bioreactor was found to significantly reduce Total Nitrogen, Nitrates, Sediments and E. Coli. Predictive relationships were found between soil phosphate and Total Nitrogen in the water that TID can use to assess the need for tile drain applications to have mitigation, such as a bioreactor. Integrating Taber Irrigation District into our Watershed Chris Gallagher (Manager,TID), presented a variety of projects both constructed and planned that improve the resilience of the district to activities within our watershed. A partnership including OWC, AAF, ACA, MD Taber,Town of Taber, PGA and SMRID helped develop watershed-scale strategies. Water quality monitoring funded through PGA and TID will show a

baseline and changes. When TID built our new shop and yard drainage, we included a rain garden to detain and clean storm water. With funding assistance from the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program (WRRP), the Taber Lake Lateral Constructed Wetland was built. This will be used to skim floating weeds and divert bed sediment through a cattail complex before wetland water rejoins the canal for downstream use. Until 2015, water users on Lateral 18 were served by an open canal, but now get water through a closed pipeline. The old canal – which outlets into Taber Reservoir – was repurposed to detain and treat runoff. Permeable checks and weirs temporarily hold back inflows and encourage channel sedimentation and cattail growth. Infiltration checks and weirs use a hemp straw bioreactor to further break down nutrients, pesticides and harmful bacteria. Alberta Conservation Association is helping TID improve the riparian health of our grazing leases to improve the vegetative buffer between the upland and our reservoirs. With funding assistance from WRRP we are advising on improved grazing practices, installing riparian pasture fencing and providing off-site solar watering troughs where required. Other projects on the books include constructed wetlands to mitigate stormwater inflow from an M.D. of Taber drainage project south of Horsefly Reservoir, and from the south and east part of the Town of Taber into Taber Reservoir.


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Cooperative Stormwater Management Initiative (CSMI) in the

Western Irrigation District

Effective stormwater management is taking on ever increasing importance as land-use changes and intensifies potentially causing significant impact to irrigation water quality. Although land development is occurring throughout Alberta in proximity to irrigation districts the Western Irrigation District (WID), which diverts its water from the Bow River within the City of Calgary, is the most significantly affected given its location. The Western Irrigation District operates in 5 communities, City of Calgary, City of Chestermere, Rocky View County, Town of Strathmore and Wheatland County, each of which has specific plans for land development that would substantially change the existing water balance for stormwater in the region. The Western Irrigation District has long recognized the importance of proactively addressing the potential issues presented by stormwater rather than waiting for the impacts to materialize. The WID has collaborated with the municipalities it serves on a solution that will balance the needs of the municipalities to proceed with approved developments in the contributing stormwater catchments while simultaneously safeguarding the WID’s irrigation water. The proposed solution, the Cooperative Stormwater Management Initiative, is a dedicated system for stormwater which parallels existing WID canals to convey the stormwater to natural systems. The municipal benefits for CSMI are significant as having a regional stormwater solution will enable multiple municipalities to achieve economies of scale from shared infrastructure and enable certainty for development to occur over a twenty-five-year buildout. Another significant benefit of the CSMI project will be the mitigation of existing flooding that does occur within the communities being serviced at the present time. The benefits for the Western Irrigation District arising from its participation in the CSMI project are that stormwater will be completely separated from irrigation water allowing the quality of water delivered to WID irrigators not to be impacted. A secondary benefit of the CSMI project for the WID will be the reduction in risk associated with flooding events which have the potential to impact the WID’s canals and pipelines due to the amount of stormwater runoff that does occur. The CSMI project will be entirely funded by the municipal partners, principally through levies on

future development, with the WID contribution being the use of its rights-of-way in areas that would otherwise allow stormwater from new development to flow into the canal. The project has also been recognized as a significant contributor to reducing risks associated with flooding in the areas served receiving 7.6 million dollars through the Alberta Community Rehabilitation Program. The project is anticipated to be built in phases based on the availability of funds and subject to the receipt of regulatory approvals.The first phases of the project are expected to be built over the next three to five years depending on the timing of regulatory approvals and construction scheduling. The next steps for the project are to refine the conceptual design, engage in a consultation with stakeholders and then submit an application for approval of the first phase of the project under the Water Act. The CSMI project represents a significant opportunity for the WID and the communities it serves to demonstrate that development can coexist with irrigation through collaboration. The success of this project has the potential to serve as an example for other irrigation districts in Alberta who will be experiencing ever-increasing pressure from development in the areas they serve.


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Alberta has excellent irrigation water quality Alberta has the largest irrigated area in Canada (70 per cent of the nation’s irrigation acres) with over 700,000 hectares of irrigated land. More than 80 per cent of this area is within 13 irrigation districts and includes 55 reservoirs and nearly 8,000 kilometers of conveyance works. This irrigation infrastructure provides water for crops and livestock production, in addition to supporting rural municipalities, domestic water users, wildlife habitats and recreational activities, all of which require good quality water. Recognizing that producers are increasingly asked by food processors and the public alike about the quality of the water used for food production, an on-going water quality study was initiated in 2006 to assess the quality of irrigation water in Alberta’s irrigation districts. Up to 90 sites within the irrigation districts are sampled four times per year during the irrigation season (June to September). Sites include primary sites, where irrigation source water enters the districts, secondary sites, which include irrigation water in mid-district laterals or exiting mid-district reservoirs and return sites, where unused irrigation water returns to rivers. Approximately 20 per cent of diverted water returns to the rivers. Return sites are characterized

as either infrastructure or watershed returns. Infrastructure returns are irrigation water returning to rivers via canals or pipelines. Watershed returns are where irrigation water returns to rivers via natural drains or creeks with a potential to mix with surface runoff or other non-irrigation water. Water samples are collected by grab sampling and are analyzed for up to 155 parameters, including nutrients, salts, bacteria and pesticides. This study assesses general water quality and evaluates changes in water quality as the water travels through the irrigation infrastructure. The quality of irrigation water is assessed against guidelines for irrigation, using a water quality index, and analyzed for trends over time. Data from this study indicates that the quality of Alberta’s irrigation water is generally excellent. The majority of sites have improved or maintained water quality since 2006. Improving trends may be due to land use, management changes, or the effect of increased diversion of good quality source water for irrigation which was recorded during this time.The rehabilitation of open canals to pipelines during the study period may have also contributed to reduced contamination of the water. Deteriorating trends at sev-

eral sites may also be explained by land use or management changes, though more specific investigation is needed. Generally, a decrease in water quality was evident as water flowed through the irrigation infrastructure.This was not surprising as water quality usually decreases as water flows downstream, even in natural water bodies. However, the greatest degradation of water quality occurred in watershed returns. This was likely due to water sources other than irrigation water, such as runoff that had increased exposure to contaminants. Reductions of irrigation water quality index scores were primarily caused by exceeding guidelines for only a few of the measures evaluated, such as the pesticides dicamba and MCPA as well as E. coli. Water Quality Index scores may be used to identify sites or areas with consistent water quality concerns and allows for the development of mitigation plans to address concerns. The Alberta Irrigation Projects Association, with support from Alberta’s irrigation districts and Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, continues to lead this important study and the data collected is an invaluable resource to assure Albertan’s of the excellent quality of water used to grow their food.


IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Fall 2018 • 11

Irrigation districts work against establishment of invasive mussels Alberta residents have been hearing of the threat of zebra and quagga mussels to our waterbodies for a number of years. Alberta irrigation districts recognized early the danger these non-native species pose to the ecology of Alberta’s lakes and reservoirs and to irrigation conveyance infrastructure. In response, the districts have supported on-going efforts to prevent establishment, and monitor for the presence of invasive mussels as well as to determine potential treatment options should mussels be discovered. The Alberta government continues to promote a number of educational programs that inform the public of the risk of bringing invasive mussels into Alberta mainly through trailered watercraft. The initial education campaign included the installation of informational signage at Alberta boat launches and provincial points of entry. Alberta’s irrigation districts provided financial assistance to help install a number of these signs. Districts continue to reinforce the messages of the provincial campaigns through education and outreach programs targeting print and social media and distribution of informational materials to the general public. Alberta watercraft inspections are key to preventing establishment of invasive mussels in Alberta waterbodies. Inspections allow interception and decontamination of mussel-fouled water-

craft. Districts have supported the provincial watercraft inspection program in a number of ways. In 2015, a number of districts provided funds to the Province

in support of the Alberta invasive species K-9 program. The funds allowed for training of three dogs that now inspect watercraft at inspection stations and boat launches throughout Alberta. In 2017, the districts, through the Alberta Irrigation Projects Association (AIPA), purchased a decontamination unit for placement at a permanent inspection station. The unit allows immediate onsite decontamination of high-risk watercraft. A number of districts are also collaborating to ensure that boat launch operators on irrigation reservoirs are adequately informed on invasive species and prohibit high-risk watercraft from launching until satisfactorily decontaminated. Regular monitoring of waterbodies for evidence of invasive mussels is important. Early detection

will allow a timely management response to assist in controlling invasive mussel populations. Irrigation districts are supporting provincial invasive mussel monitoring programs by providing financial and in-kind assistance. The largest program collects water samples from Alberta waterbodies and analyses for the presence of mussel larvae. During the 2018 irrigation season a total of 23 irrigation reservoirs were sampled by irrigation district staff and a consultant hired by the AIPA. Irrigation district staff also deploy plastic substrates within reservoirs at the beginning of the irrigation season and monitor the substrates on a monthly basis for evidence of adult mussel growth. In addition, regular monitoring of irrigation control structures for evidence of adult mussel growth has become a routine duty of district operations staff. What will happen if zebra or quagga mussels are discovered in Alberta irrigation reservoirs or irrigation conveyance infrastructure? In other jurisdictions, established mussel populations clog pipeline infrastructure as they grow. They also establish on other structures within waterbodies such as rocks, docks and moored boats. This concern has led irrigation districts to undertake efforts to determine viable treatment options to manage invasive mussels. Continued on page 12


IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Fall 2018 • 12

Risk to Alberta infrastructure from invasive mussels is great Continued from page 11

It appears the mussels may be susceptible to cold winter temperatures. This means adult mussel growth may be restricted in Alberta irrigation canals and any pipelines exposed to cold temperatures. Reservoirs will still be susceptible to mussel growth, but winter draw down may somewhat manage Taber Irrigation District

TID isisthe TID thecentre centreof of Specialty Crop specialty crop specialty cropproduction production value added Country and valueand added processing in Alberta in processing Alberta including sugar including beets, beets, sugar hay, potatoes, (Established in 1915) hay, potatoes, corn cornand andvalue manyadded other Taber is the centre of specialty crop production and many other vegetable crops. processing in Alberta including sugar beets, hay, potatoes, corn vegetable crops. and many other vegetable crops.

TID

4420 - 44 Street, Taber, Alberta T1G 2J6 Telephone: (403) 223-2148 • Fax: (403) 223-2924 Email: tid@telusplanet.net Email: Email: tid@taberirrigationdistrict.ca tid@taberirrigationdistrict.ca Visit Our Website: www.taberirrigationdistrict.ca TABER IRRIGATION DISTRICT Visit Our Website: www.taberirrigationdistrict.ca Serving over83,000 82,000acres acresand and 750 750 water area Serving over water usersinin inthe the Taber area Serving over 85,000 acres and 750 waterusers users theTaber Taber area

adult mussels at least where the shoreline and bed of the reservoir is exposed. Pipelines installed below the frost line may be able to support over-wintering mussels if physical conditions in the pipeline remain suitable. In these cases, specific treatment may be required. Potash shows promise as a potential treatment option. A number of districts recently participated in pipeline trials to determine the potential of injecting concentrated potash into a pipeline for treatment. The results of the trials were positive. However, the cost of this type of treatment could be significant. Districts are investigating additional research to obtain a greater understanding of other potential treatment options especially for pipeline infrastructure. The risk to Alberta irrigation infrastructure from invasive mussels is great. To protect this valuable infrastructure, irrigation districts will continue to support initiatives that prevent establishment, monitor for detection and determine viable cost-effective treatment options.

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Alberta’s Irrigation Technology Centre Provided by Alberta Agriculture and Forestry The Alberta Irrigation Technology Centre (AITC) near Lethbridge was established in 2000 through a partnership with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry and the irrigation industry in Alberta. A few years later, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry assumed full responsibility for the site. The purpose of the facility is to showcase applied research and demonstration of sustainable irrigated crop production, water management and leading edge technologies. This is done with an emphasis on environmental sustainability and accountability to the producer, food processor and the irrigation industry. The research is two-fold and looks at both irrigation technology (irrigation systems and equipment, soil moisture measurement devices, etc.) and irrigation management (when and how much irrigation water to apply). The AITC is located on 81 hectares (200 acres) east of the City of Lethbridge. Located at the site are four low-pressure centre pivots of varying size.Two of the pivots are equipped with variable rate irrigation (VRI) systems and three can be operated remotely with internet-based controls. There are also hand move, wheel move, surface drip and sub-surface drip irrigation systems available for research and demonstration purposes.The site is managed by a team of technologists Jim Parker, Mike Ellefson, Ward Henry, Marie Schussler and Brad Calder. The centre supports improved irrigation water conservation, efficiency and productivity, with an emphasis on the adoption of technologies and agronomic practices for optimum irrigation water management.The size and layout of the site allows the team of specialists to conduct research on a variety of scales; from small-plot studies to field-scale research and demonstration. There are several new projects that are utilizing the latest in irrigation technology. Adele Harding, Irrigation Management Specialist, is leading a project which is comparing the impacts of three types of sprinklers on lodging in a cereal crop. The study is utilizing soil moisture sensors to determine the uniformity of the irrigation application and drone photography to assess the pattern of lodging. The sprinklers include: a low-pressure sprinkler commonly used in southern Alberta (where the sprinkler hangs near the top of the crop canopy), a low-elevation precision application (LEPA) sprinkler (where the sprinkler hangs within the crop can-

Microwave sensors mounted on a low-pressure centre pivot equipped with variable rate irrigation technology, located at the Alberta Irrigation Technology Centre

opy), and a precision mobile drip irrigation (PMDI) system where hoses affixed with water emitters extend into the crop). Another project is beta-testing an irrigation decision support system that has been developed by the United States Department of Agriculture and Valmont Industries. This system utilizes wireless infrared thermometers (IRTs), which are mounted on the pivot to measure crop canopy temperature and wireless soil moisture sensors to automate the development of irrigation prescription maps. Soil and Water Specialist Len Hingley has been working with scientists from Texas to install this system on one of the VRI-equipped pivots at the AITC. While this system is not yet ready for the retail market, the ultimate goal will be a product that will automatically generate irrigation prescription maps based on field conditions and send these prescriptions Continued to page 14


www.farmpressmedia.com IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Fall 2018 • 14

Thursday, October 4, 2018 Z13

Alberta’s Irrigation Technology Centre Continued from page 13

directly to the pivot control panel. The research will compare the water management regime determined by the IRTs and soil moisture sensors to the irrigation demand determined by the Alberta Irrigation Management Model (AIMM). Len is working closely with Dr. Rav Pannu, Soil and Water Specialist on this research.The AIMM is a Windows-based decision support tool software package that assists irrigation producers with their irrigation scheduling decisions, using local climate parameters and crop growth stages. AIMM has been verified on various crops throughout the irrigated region of southern Alberta. Microwave sensors are another technology being tested at the AITC.These sensors are mounted along the top of the pivot span and determines root-zone soil moisture by measuring the microwaves naturally emitted by the ground. The unique feature of these sensors is that they can measure soil water content on bare ground as well as through a dense crop canopy. Ted Harms, Soil and Water Specialist, is working with the developer of the technology to compare the soil moisture maps developed by the microwave sensor data to actual soil water content. Key to the success of the AITC is in the relationships with the broader research community, academia and industry.The centre has research collaborations with scientists from other divisions of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the United States Department of Agriculture. They also have relationships with researchers in educational institutes, such as; the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, Lethbridge College and Dalhousie University. Recent collaborations have also included McGill University and the University of Manitoba. Some projects have included partnering with industry groups or organizations, such as; Lantic Inc., the Alberta Sugar Beet Growers, McCain Foods, the Potato Growers of Alberta and Bayer CropScience to complete field research studies.The researchers at AITC say that the work they do would

Installation of a new drop structure on the demonstration canal at the Water Measurement Demonstration and Testing Facility

not be possible without the support of the irrigation industry. They have gratefully received in-kind support from Oliver Irrigation, New Way Irrigation, RPH Irrigation, Southern Irrigation, Komet Irrigation, Nelson Irrigation, Senninger Irrigation, DuPont Pioneer and the St. Mary River Irrigation District. The AITC is also home to the Water Measurement Demonstration and Testing Facility. The site consists of a pipeline and open channel infrastructure equipped with a diversity of water control and flow measurement technologies that is used in the irrigation districts.The canal is being rehabilitated this summer with new drop structures and various liner materials that allows it to continue the testing and demonstration mission of that facility. Within the 200m long site, one can easily observe and learn about the water control and measurement systems used in the over 7600 kilometres of conveyance work used by the Alberta irrigation districts. To learn more about the Alberta Irrigation Technology Centre, visit www.demofarm.ca.

Panorama of a low-pressure centre pivot with three sprinkler types, located at the Alberta Irrigation Technology Centre


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13

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HYDROELECTRIC PLANTS ASSOCIATED HYDROELECTRIC PLANTS ASSOCIATED TP. 28 WITH WATER DISTRIBUTION WORKS WITH WATER DISTRIBUTION WORKS

9

TP. 13

LOVELAND WOODROW RES. RES. DEADFISH RES. CAVAN LAKE

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_

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TP. 29

66RAYMOND RAYMOND

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SO U

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TP. 6

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9

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4

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7

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9

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TP. 28

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41

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36

! ENCHANT

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9

11

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275

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TP. 24

TP. 21

! TILLEY

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11,900

TP. 18

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TP. 22

ER

TP. 17

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23

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TP. 25

TP. 23

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13

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56

ND

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!

!

TP. 19

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41

!

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36

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TP. 21

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TP. 28

9

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CR

4 UNITED

TP. 29

! OYEN

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RG. 1

TP. 22

RIV

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!

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ER

RG. 2

RG. 3

RG. 4

RG. 5

RG. 6

PIPELINE OWNED BY ALBERTA POWER LTD.

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1

RG. 7

RG. 8

D

56

STANDARD !

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SHEERNESS !

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ER

E

RG. 10

RG. 11

RG. 12

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12

RG. 13

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.

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9

RV

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R

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STRATHMORE

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RE

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VE RI CHESTERMERE LAKE 4,200

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21

CALGARY

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DE

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RG. 19

R ED

9

IRRICANA !

9

PATRICIA !

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RG. 20

+ $

+ $ 2

RG. 21

! DRUMHELLER

72

AIRDRIE

! DUCHESS

RG. 22

DEAD

RG. 23

+ $

RG. 24

+ $

RG. 25

+ $

R

3 AETNA

TP. 23

RG. 26

+ $

R ED

RG. 27

+ $

RG. 28

D EE

1 MOUNTAIN VIEW

TP. 24

LOVELAND RES.

WOODROW RES. DEADFISH RES.

IRRIGATION DISTRICTS

+ $

Janet Res.

TP. 25

IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Fall 2018 • 2

+ $

36

+ $

+ $

AKE

41

TP. 18

Irrigation Distric Major Irrigation W within Southern A

®

IRRIGATION DISTRICTS 1 MOUNTAIN VIEW 2 LEAVITT Agriculture and Rural Development Irrigation and Farm Water Division 3 AETNA Basin Water Management Branch 4 UNITED

5 MAGRATH 6 RAYMOND 7 LETHBRIDGE NORTHERN 2014 stats - (Map Update: May 2015)

8 TABER

9 ST. MARY RIVER 10 ROSS CREEK 11 BOW RIVER 12 WESTERN

TP. 17

13 EASTERN

Agriculture and Rural D Irrigation amd Farm Wa Basin Water Manageme


IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Fall 2018 • 2 IRRIGATING ALBERTA - Fall 2018 • 16

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