By Collin Gallant
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Two irrigation districts in the Highway 3 corridor are in amalgamation talks.
The boards of both the St. Mary’s River Irrigation District and Taber Irrigation District sent letters to members late last week stating they have entered formal discussions about combining operations.
The result would be “a stronger and even more progressive district,” according to letters, which are similar but separate and signed by SMRID chair George Lohues and and TID chair Mike Wind, respectively.
Both districts are planning expansions and say operational efficiencies would be found in the resulting district of almost half a million acres.
Taber receives all its water from SMRID main canal, pays a portion of upstream maintenance, and is a partner along with SMRID and the Raymond Irrigation district in the IRRICAN canal power co-operative.
Both districts were also central to last fall’s announcement of a potential $815-million expansion by districts, the province and federal infrastructure bank.
Specific to the two districts, an expansion of the Chin Reservoir would add acres and both are expected to hold acreage plebiscites this year.
In terms of amalgamation, both say they intend to hold in-person information sessions about the potential merger in July and August, when health restrictions allow.
SMRID, with 1,500 members and 400,000 acres, has offices in Lethbridge and Bow Island. Its area is portioned in three main blocks; from Milk River to Lethbridge, South of Taber to Bow Island, and Seven Persons to Medicine Hat.
TID’s district comprises 88,000 acres located directly south of the Town of of Taber and areas north the Oldman River.