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Water sharing details being finalized, SMRID says

Posted on April 4, 2024 by Ryan Dahlman

Southern Alberta Newspapers

Final details of a basin-wide voluntary water sharing agreement are now being worked out, according to the St. Mary River Irrigation District, which also announced that members will begin the season with a one-third reduction in their water allocation.

Irrigators should expect eight inches, compared to an acre-foot, for water delivery this season, SMRID officials said in a mid-month update on March 15, ahead of what is widely predicted to be a dry spring and summer.

SMRID stated that as of March 11, the district reservoirs at Waterton, St. Mary and Milk River Ridge had risen in the previous month and held 147,000 acre feet.

Total storage measured 292,000 acre-feet, about 48 per cent of target winter storage levels.

As well, snowpack in the mountain headwaters of the basin improved in February, but in several cases remain below levels seen in 2001, considered to be the driest year in recent history.

Earlier this year, Alberta Environment announced it would guide voluntary talks toward voluntary reductions among large water licence holders and potentially swapping unused allocation.

“We anticipate that the six irrigation districts located along the Southern Tributaries will be participating in water sharing MOU, but all voluntary participants have yet to be finalized,” stated the SMRID notice, which added that draft revisions of a memorandum of understanding are now circulating.

SMRID will finalize its allocation at the district AGM, set to take place April 3 at the Agri Food Hub in Lethbridge.

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