Irrigation in the 21st Century

The Summary Report (Volume 1) documents the goals, activities and findings within the Irrigation Water Management Study, released early in 2002 by the Alberta Irrigation Projects Association (AIPA). The information contained within the report provides the most comprehensive assessments of the state of irrigation in Alberta and the prospects for continued irrigation development and water management in the 21st century. It focuses, in particular, on the more than half a million hectares of irrigation available throughout Alberta’s 13 organized irrigation districts.

The five-year, multi-million dollar study was carried out through a partnership effort between the AIPA, the Irrigation Branch of Alberta Agriculture, Food & Rural Development (AAFRD) and the PFRA of Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). It was initiated in 1996, in anticipation of the pending overall water management review for the South Saskatchewan River Basin, scheduled for 2001-02, to be led by Alberta Environment (AENV). The report summarizes the history of irrigation development, leading up to an extensive description of the state of the irrigation industry at the turn of the century, as well as reports on technical development and analysis work that responds to the study’s primary objectives.

  • Identify and quantify current irrigation water requirements and the state of current irrigation water management.
  • Quantify changes in water use and water management efficiencies during the 1990’s. Quantify possible future irrigation water use.
  • Assess the risks, impacts and possibilities of irrigation area expansion.
  • Develop leading-edge computer tools to assess current and future irrigation water use and management opportunities.
  •  Assess the potential contribution of irrigation expansion to the provincial economy.

On a chapter-by-chapter basis, Volume 1 summarizes much of the technical applied research work that was carried out as a foundation to later analysis, as well as the development of leading-edge computer model decision-support tools. Conclusions are derived based on the research findings and also on analyses of the output from the application of the decision-support tools that model projected development and operations scenarios for Alberta’s irrigation industry. To complement those analyses, an assessment of the economic benefits and opportunities through continued irrigation growth was included.

In support of the “Volume 1 – Summary Report”, an additional four volumes consisting of nine different technical reporting areas, has been compiled. These technical reports provide the detail on much of the new applied research and model development work inherent within the overall study project. Information related to these reports is available through:

Irrigation Branch
Alberta Agriculture, Food & Rural Development
100 – 5401 1st Avenue South Lethbridge, AB T1J 4V6
Phone: (403) 381-5140
[Click Here to See the Alberta Agriculture, Food & Rural Development Web Site]

Irrigation in the 21st Century Volume 01 – Summary Report [pdf format] [right-click and choose “save as” to download or left-click to view on-line, each file opens in a new window]

Please contact the offices of Alberta Irrigation or Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development for more information.