By Jamie Rieger
St. Mary’s River Irrigation District is hoping a few additional monitoring stations for the Yellow Lake basin area will help them better monitor the flows into the lake and will gather valuable data for decision-making when floods and droughts hit the region.
“We have an array of monitoring stations in place, but we have a few sites where there is not one and we are missing that information. A few more monitoring stations will help us gather the before-capture data,” said Trevor Helwig, SMRID district engineer.
SMRID has included seven monitoring stations in the Yellow Lake basin for their hydrometric monitoring program in their proposal that is being submitted for funding through the joint Agricultural Watershed Enhancement program (administered through Agriculture and Rural Development) and the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration program (administered through Environment and Sustainable Resources).
According to the proposal, the additional monitoring stations would assist SMRID in assessing their operations which could lead to improvements in water conveyance efficiency and would allow managers to making more informed decisions during times of floods and droughts.
SMRID expects construction of the monitoring stations would begin in the fall of 2015, with all being fully operational by the 2016 operating season.
The total estimated cost of the project is $115,341, with $100,000 being sought through the Tier 1 funding and the remainder being being contributed by SMRID.
SMRID asked the County of Forty Mile for a letter of support for the project, which council approved at their Jan. 28 meeting.
Runoff waters from the Yellow Lake basin, part of the South Saskatchewan west sub-watershed, flow into the lake, which provides water for 1,079 ha of irrigated farmland in the region.
In the past, rising waters in Yellow Lake have caused damage to causeways, pump stations, and other infrastructure.
The Lake Level Stabilization program, a joint effort between SMRID, County of Forty Mile, and MD of Taber was established a number of years ago to address this issue.