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Irrigation Development Process

If you’re looking for information on irrigation programming, please visit our Irrigation Program webpage.

Saskatchewan's climate makes it appealing for irrigation development, as moisture is the main limitation to agriculture in most areas of the province. Those areas with semi-arid climates are restricted in the types of crops that can be grown and the number of livestock that can be supported per unit of land. Irrigation has been used as a tool to diversify the rural economy and to stabilize crop production.

Developing an irrigation project may be complex, as a number of ministries and agencies are involved. The Ministry of Agriculture can assist producers in navigating some of the complexities the producer may encounter.

If you choose not to leverage the Ministry of Agriculture service, you will need to complete several steps before irrigation construction. A resource document with information about which documents are required for your project will soon be available. Other specific requirements may become apparent as you develop your project and, as such, this may not be a complete list as it relates to your project. Please consult the list of associated ministries and agencies you may need to consult with prior to construction under the related items at the bottom of this page for more information.

Why is the process required?

The Ministry of Agriculture will assist you with your irrigation development to ensure that you are meeting all of the regulatory requirements related to Irrigation Development in Saskatchewan. The legislation and regulations are in place to ensure that we are protecting our natural resources, such as land and water.

Developing an irrigation project is complex and depends on a number of variables which can take a significant amount of time to complete. The development of an irrigation project can take anywhere from between four to 24 months to complete.

Initial requirements:

In order to qualify for technical support from the Ministry of Agriculture, your proposed project should be at least four hectares (10 acres) in an area with sufficient water for an annual allocation based on availability, seven years in 10 for intensive projects and a five years in 10 for non-intensive projects. Water availability is determined by the Water Security Agency.

Funding is available through the Irrigation Development Program and the Irrigation Environmental Efficiency Program under the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (Sustainable CAP) agreement. For more information, please visit the Sustainable CAP Irrigation Program webpages.

Note: Effluent irrigation projects have different requirements. All permits and approvals for effluent irrigation must be obtained through the Water Security Agency. To learn more about the regulatory requirements for effluent irrigation projects, contact your local environmental project officer or the engineering approvals section of the Water Security Agency by email.


1. Step 1: Determine if this is an Irrigation District Project

It is important to understand if your project falls within an Irrigation District or not. Please use this irrigation district map to help identify if the project will be a district irrigation project or a non-district irrigation project.

Once you have determined that, complete the appropriate application and it will be routed to the associated district or to the Ministry of Agriculture. If the district your project falls into does not have a specific application, please fill out the standard application and the Ministry of Agriculture will route it to the appropriate district for approval. You can find these applications in related items at the bottom of this page.


2. Step 2: Determine Specific Land Concerns

When the Ministry of Agriculture's irrigation unit receives your application they will do a high level assessment to determine if irrigation will be occurring on Crown land or on land that has specific environmental concerns. If either of these issues occur, the unit will work with lands branch and/or the Ministry of Environment to determine if the project can continue. The timeline of this determination is dependent on the specific findings.


3. Step 3: Irrigation Opportunity Assessment

The Ministry of Agriculture will:

  • Complete a water quality assessment to ensure that the water quality is adequate for irrigation purposes. If the quality is not suitable for irrigation, the project will not be able to proceed.
    Download the water testing instructions.
  • Assist you in determining your preferred water source and, if required, work with the Water Security Agency to ensure there is sufficient water available for your project. If there is not, the project will not be able to proceed. The timeline of this determination is dependent on the specific findings.
  • If required, perform an on-site inspection and complete a GPS survey of the proposed site.
  • Assess project feasibility. If the project appears feasible with the information gathered to date, a sketch plan and cost estimate for various alternatives will be prepared for you. This will assist you in determining if you would like to continue with the project.

At this point, you will be asked if you would like to proceed with your irrigation development and if so, requested to sign an acknowledgement letter. Once signed, the Ministry of Agriculture will engage other ministries (Environment, Parks Culture and Sport, etc.) and agencies in partnership with you, to assist in moving the project forward within the shortest possible timelines.


4. Step 4: Pre-Development Process

Once the sketch plan has been completed, you will have a higher degree of confidence in the project and where the irrigation works are intended to be positioned. The Ministry of Agriculture's irrigation unit will once again assist to ensure that any impacts to Crown land or environmental sensitivities are identified. If these issues are identified, the irrigation unit will work with lands branch and/or the Ministry of Environment to determine a decision on the project feasibility. The timeline of this determination is dependent on the specific findings and may result in the project not being able to proceed or needing to be modified.


5. Step 5: The Irrigation Certificate

An Irrigation Certificate is a requirement of The Irrigation Act, 2019, for all projects allocated more than 12,300 cubic meters (10 acre feet) of water. There are two ways you can get the soil testing work completed in order to facilitate the Irrigation Certificate assessment process.

  1. The Ministry of Agriculture can be commissioned to complete the work that is required at a cost of $2,310 per quarter. This is to be paid prior to soils testing being initiated;
  2. The producer may hire an agrologist to complete the soils testing. This criteria is outlined in the Irrigation Certification Manual in Appendix A. These results can then be submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture and will be assessed at a cost of $520 per quarter. These fees are required to be paid prior to the Ministry of Agriculture reviewing the information.

An Irrigation Certificate will be issued for each irrigation project that meets soil and water compatibility standards and for which the applicable fees have been paid. Without an Irrigation Certificate irrigators cannot enter into a water service agreement with an irrigation district nor get a Water Rights Licence from Water Security Agency.


6. Step 6: Non-district Irrigator Approval

Non-district irrigators must submit an application, ensuring all regulatory requirements have been met, along with the appropriate fees to the Water Security Agency for a Water Rights Licence and an Approval to Construct and Operate Works.


7. Step 7: Construction

Upon receipt of an Approval to Construct Works, and any other required approvals or permissions, construction can proceed. If requested, the Ministry of Agriculture will stake the pivot point and complete additional field survey work for equipment installation if required. The Ministry of Agriculture will also provide confirmation of the preliminary design.


8. Step 8: Survey and Inspection

Upon confirmation that the project is constructed, the Ministry of Agriculture will conduct an as constructed survey and inspection. An as constructed plan will be prepared and submitted to the Water Security Agency so that a Water Rights Licence and an Approval to Operate Works can be issued.

District irrigators will be required to enter into a Water Services Agreement with the irrigation district providing services.

Note: All irrigators in Saskatchewan are required to pay an annual per acre fee to the Irrigation Crop Diversification Corporation as per The Irrigation Act, 2019.

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