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Accessing Irrigation Development Programming

August 2018

Saskatchewan producers can access cost-shared funding for new irrigation development under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP). In addition to supporting sustainable agriculture water management, irrigation projects can mitigate the effects of climate change by expanding irrigation acres.  Program funding is available to producers across the province for projects that meet eligibility criteria and develops a minimum 10 acres of new irrigation.

Under the Irrigation Development Program, eligible items include infrastructure (pumps, pipelines, power installation and intake pipe, etc.) to develop a secure water supply to the edge of the irrigated land parcel. Land parcel irrigation equipment (e.g. irrigation pivots) is not eligible. Funding is the lessor of 67 per cent of eligible costs or $1,320 per irrigable acre developed, to a maximum rebate of $300,000 per eligible applicant over the five years of CAP funding.

Pre-approval is required to access funding and all projects must be completed within 18 months of receiving written approval, or before November 30, 2022 (whichever date is earlier). Projects within irrigation districts must be approved by the respective irrigation district board and have a Water Service Agreement with an irrigation district.

Given the number of approvals required to develop agricultural land for irrigation, the following information can help ensure producers meet their completion timeline.

First, Contact the Ministry of Agriculture Crops and Irrigation Branch at (306) 867-5500. A specialist can help determine the viability of your project and complete a Request for Technical Assistance form to conduct a technical assessment of the project. This assessment includes potential infrastructure, regulatory requirements that must be met and a site inspection. A sketch plan of the project will be developed outlining the project components and estimated cost.

The Irrigation Act, 1996 requires that all land must be certified before irrigation development occurs. As part of the Request for Technical Assistance, Crops and Irrigation Branch will conduct a soil/water compatibility investigation to determine if the soil and water are suitable for irrigation. The fee for the soil/water investigation is $2,100 per land parcel and is not eligible for reimbursement from the Irrigation Program. An Irrigation Certificate will be issued by the Ministry for the land parcel if deemed suitable for irrigation. Land certified for irrigation will have a detailed preliminary plan prepared showing the proposed irrigation development.

Non-district irrigators need to apply to the Water Security Agency for a Water Rights Licence and Approval to Construct and an Approval to Operate Works. The application will need to include a copy of the preliminary plan described above. District irrigators need to contact their irrigation district board for approval.

Next, apply to the Irrigation Development Program for pre-approval of the project. Include copies of the Irrigation Certificate and Approval to Construct Works (if obtained) with your application. The pre-approval application is available online.

Once the Water Security Agency has issued an Approval to Construct Works, construction can proceed.

Once the project is completed, a final survey and inspection must be conducted and an As-Constructed Plan completed. This final survey and inspection is standard for non-district and district irrigators. This plan is sent to Water Security Agency to obtain the final Water Rights Licence and Approval to Operate Works. For district irrigators, the plan is also sent to their irrigation district office. Once obtained, submit copies of these approvals along with the final project claim (and copies of the invoices for the associated project) to the Ministry.

For more information on accessing CAP programming, including Irrigation Development Programming, visit saskatchewan.ca/cap. To begin your irrigation project, contact the Crops and Irrigation Branch at (306) 867-5500, or the Water Security Agency at (306) 694-3900.

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