Winter is a good time to review your water resources and identify any risks, says a provincial water engineer.
“It’s the perfect season to spend some time working on your long-term water management plan,” said Melissa Orr-Langner.
The goal of the plan is to ensure a farm has adequate and sustainable water sources to meet its present and future water supply and water quality needs, she said.
“All plans should address the security of a supply during drought periods, as well as ways to protect the supply from contamination or improve water quality,” said Orr-Langner.
A plan should cover both owned and regularly rented acres that allow access to water. More remote quarters or parcels of land can be left out if they do not have a water shortage and the water cannot be considered a water asset that can be shared with the rest of the farm, she added.
The key parts of a long-term water management plan are:
- A map identifying all the water sources on a farm including those not currently in use;
- An estimation of the total amount of water the operation needs in a year;
- An estimation of the amount of water the operation has or is capable of producing;
- A calculation of whether there is a surplus or shortfall in water sources;
- An assessment of any risks that might impact sources;
- Identifying actions to address any risks.
“Some of the examples of risks you might identify might be inadequately sized or poorly placed dugouts, or old wells that might pose a contamination threat of the groundwater source,” said Orr-Langner. “You should also identify any sources that are susceptible to drought or any contamination risks that are on the farm.”
Action plans might include expanding undersized dugouts; creating new dugouts or wells, or adding pipelines.
“There is funding available under Growing Forward 2 for new water sources such as wells and dugouts, as well as for decommissioning of old wells or well pits,” said Orr-Langner. “In order to be eligible for this funding, you’ll need a long-term water management plan and have it reviewed and approved by an AARD water specialist prior to the project being started.”
For more information, go to www.agriculture.alberta.ca.