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Water Quality - What We Do and How We Can Help

By Catherine Lang, Livestock and Feed Extension Specialist, Watrous

May 2019 

Did you know that we partner with the Roy Romanow Provincial Laboratory to provide water testing services to livestock producers?  Producers concerned about the quality of their water can contact their local Livestock and Feed Extension Specialist to arrange for a water analysis. Producers will be asked to bring in a one-litre sample of water in a clean container and will be required to have a Premise Identification (PID) number - staff at the Regional Office can assist those producers who do not yet have one.

Each local specialist has access to an electroconductivity meter that will quickly measure the conductivity of the sample. Although conductivity does not provide a full analysis, it does provide an estimate of the general quality of the water. Specialists can then quickly set producers’ minds at ease or advise a different course of action if the water is of poor quality.  In some cases, further testing may be required and the sample will be sent to the Roy Romanow Provincial Laboratory for analysis.  The results of these tests will be sent back to the specialist to share with the producer.

Although the lab results are very comprehensive, they may be confusing. Livestock and Feed Extension Specialists are educated in this area and are happy to help producers understand what the results mean for their cattle and their operations. Frequently, the specialist will use this data to advise specific mineral programs to address the negative effects the water may be having on livestock.  

In some cases, when water quality is poor, developing a new water source might be the best option for an operation. The Farm and Ranch Water Infrastructure Program (FRWIP), through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP), provides funding to producers to help establish new sources. To be eligible for FRWIP, the water development must be intended for agricultural use, i.e., watering livestock, developing water for crop spraying, and greenhouse production.

The FRWIP program is set up as a rebate program for projects including dugouts, pipelines, and wells. Qualified producers are eligible for a maximum 50 per cent rebate, up to $50,000, over the five-year program.  Eligible expenses for FRWIP funding for the following projects include: 

Dugout projects:

  • Engineering or consulting fees
  • Test holes
  • Construction or excavation of new dugouts
  • Installation of wet wells
  • Expansion of existing dugouts by at least one third of the original size
  • Infrastructure items (with specific dollar values attached to them) including
    • Permanent water storage tanks
    • Permanent fencing to keep livestock out of dugout
    • Watering bowl and pad, hydrant, or water trough
    • Solar systems, including remote water monitoring equipment

Well projects:

  • Engineering or consulting fees
  • Reasonable groundwater exploration or test holes
  • Well drilling and construction
  • Trenching and pipe from the well to a pressure system and water distribution point
  • Infrastructure items (with specific dollar values attached to them) including:
    • Screening and casing for wells
    • Gravel for large diameter wells
    • Pumps and plumbing material
    • Permanent water storage tanks
    • Permanent fencing to keep livestock out
    • Watering bowl and pad, hydrant, or water trough
    • Solar systems, including remote water monitoring equipment

Pipeline projects: 

  • Engineering or consulting fees
  • Pipeline development using an existing water source
  • Construction or excavation of a shallow or deep buried pipeline
  • Infrastructure items (with specific dollar values attached to them) including
    • Pumps and plumbing material
    • Permanent water storage tanks
    • Watering bowl and pad, hydrant, or water trough
    • Solar systems, including remote water monitoring equipment

In order for a project to be eligible for funding, it is the producer’s responsibility to ensure all permits and approvals are obtained before projects begin, as the program does provide a rebate. An eligibility checklist which includes a complete list of required approvals can be found on the FRWIP web page and should be reviewed prior to beginning the water project. The site also lists all ineligible expenses in the rebate program.

Talk to your local Ag Programs Specialist if you have any questions on what is eligible, what permits or approvals are required, or to ensure you qualify for the program. If you have questions call the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377.


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