By Trevor Busch
Planning is now fully underway for the Chin Reservoir expansion in southern Alberta, and Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter says the $133 million project is currently on schedule to meet preliminary construction timelines.
“In terms of the other work that’s happening, the Chin Reservoir expansion, that is still going forward as well. There was another study that needed to be done that is being worked on right now. We had originally heard from Infrastructure that the shovels are going to be in the ground this fall as well. So we’re still hopeful that that will happen, that we’ll be able to get that (study) ready, finished and completed. And then once that is done, then we can get into the ground. But if not, it will be early spring next year,” said Hunter.
The project will allow for the expansion of irrigated acres in St. Mary River (SMRID) and Raymond irrigation districts. The planned expansion could add over 200,000 irrigated acres to the two districts, and should catch the eye of value-added food processors in the region.
“Within two days of that time, I have had three phone calls from companies and another phone call from a lobby organization that has another company that is interested in coming in,” said Hunter, referencing his recent appointment as Parliamentary Secretary for Agrifood Development. “I can tell you right now that the excitement over what we’re doing, when we expanded that 230,000 irrigated acres, I knew full well that the world was going to take note of our little piece of heaven, in that area between between Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. And they have, it’s happening now, now that people know who to contact they are starting to contact and reach out. It’s exciting – very exciting – and it’s gonna be really neat and exciting for our area in terms of the trickle down effect for jobs and businesses. If these bigger, larger multinational agri-food companies come in they’re going to need to have support businesses and support structures, there will be great opportunities for entrepreneurs in our area.”
It has been close to 40 years since any reservoirs were expanded in SMRID. The Chin Reservoir was completed in 1955, and is currently about 24 kms in length and has a water storage capacity of 154,320 acre-feet.
The Chin Reservoir expansion project is expected to be completed by spring 2028.
“We’re still well within the timeframes of when we want to be able to get everything done, that full 230,000 irrigated acres will be built out over the next 10 years,” said Hunter. “And so that’s for off-stream storage projects, and then the efficiencies that we’re finding which is the off-stream storage projects are about 65 per cent of the of the new to have the 230,000 acres, and 35 per cent is through efficiencies that we found, or the farmers and irrigation districts have found, and so we’re adding that as well.”