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Will you have enough water when you need it?

Growing Forward 2 funding is available for new water sources such as wells and dugouts

a freshly dug dugout in a field
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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.

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