What Waters Does


Irrigation has been practiced in Alberta for more than 100 years. In global terms, that is a very short period of time — but in Alberta, irrigation development has transformed the prairies from the edge of the Rocky Mountains east to Saskatchewan. Canals, reservoirs and drains now cross the landscape, taking water’s life blood into regions where there was virtually no naturally standing water.

Irrigation is far more than agriculture!

Today, water diverted from streams and rivers in southern Alberta primarily for irrigated agriculture accomplishes many important things. It is

  • Water for Food,
  • Water for Communities,
  • Water for Business & Commerce,
  • Water for Wildlife & Wetlands, and
  • Water for FUN!

Water for Food

Irrigation makes it possible to produce a wide range of high-value crops. Crops grown under irrigation in Alberta fall into 4 general categories; cereals, oilseeds, forages, and specialty crops. Most of Alberta awaits each year for the “Taber Corn” harvest … just one of the features of important food production.

Water for Business and Commerce

Irrigation production provides a stable base for the growing of high value crops that promote a growing value-added industry sector. Less and less of Alberta’s primary production leaves as raw product.

Water for FUN!

When it comes to evenings or weekends, we often look for the nearest water body as part of our recreation. Swimming, angling, boating, camping and a host of other activities are taking place at Alberta irrigation facilities. In fact, prior to irrigation development, except for the river valleys, there was little standing water south of Calgary.

Water for Communities

More than 50 southern Alberta communities draw and/or store all the water they need for their municipal purposes from the irrigation infrastructure. In addition, the majority of rural households also get the water they need for their domestic use from the same network that provides them with water for crop production.

Water for Wildlife & Wetlands

Albeta’s irrigated areas have more than 50 years of progressive partnership with conservation agencies. In today’s irrigated regions, water diverted from crop production also supports some 80,000 acres of critical wetland habitat. Wildlife species of all kinds abound throughout southern Alberta.