SARM looks to Lake Diefenbaker irrigation project for drought relief

The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM), with their member RMs, have been waiting in anticipation for the launch of the $4 billion water management infrastructure known as the Lake Diefenbaker Irrigation Project which was announced by the Government of Saskatchewan in 2020. As part of this project, RMs will reap the rewards of irrigation after some very hard years of drought.

The Lake Diefenbaker Irrigation Project, once completed, will not only benefit RMs but the entire province and country.  It will

  • provide water to over 500,000 acres of farm and grain land
  • improve food security
  • lessen reliance on imported agricultural products
  • create more jobs in processing and transportation
  • increase the Gross Domestic Product by an estimated $40 to $80 billion

“The Lake Diefenbaker irrigation expansion could more than double the irrigated land in the province, not only opening new farmland to consistent water supplies, but also facilitating industrial and potash mining operations.  The government has already allocated $45.5 million for preliminary engineering and environmental work on the first phase of the project and has said construction could start in 2023. At this time, most of the work beyond rehabilitating existing canals is in the conceptual phase, and there are many unanswered questions,” says Ray Orb, President of SARM.

Many RMs will benefit from the project. These RMs have suffered over the last few years with drought and are optimistic that this massive project could begin to assist the viability of their farmland.  The economic importance of this project is significant for rural residents.

SARM is rallying for an update on Phase 1, in Division 5, which was deemed one of the most shovel-ready projects in the province. With 90% of the current canal already in place, we need to know when our RMs will see water flow and processing, and employment opportunities come to light. We anticipate the economic boost for several smaller communities, and nine RMs, when Phase 2 begins with the buildout of Project 2 Westside, which will not only add 260,000 acres of irrigated land, but also increase construction job opportunities, farm expansion and traffic into these communities.

“We recognize that this is a long-haul project that will positively impact rural municipalities in 50 years, and are committed to helping rural residents increase their crop diversity, and farm profitability, with irrigation, with Project 1 launching sooner rather than later.” says Ray Orb, President of SARM.

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For interview requests please contact:

Corette Mihalcea, Communications Specialist, SARM or 306.761.3931

Rustie Dean, Media Liaison, SARM

Background: SARM is the independent association that represents its membership of rural municipal government in Saskatchewan and is the principal advocate in representing them before senior governments.

SARM’s 118th Annual Convention is March 14-16, 2023 at the Prairieland Park in Saskatoon. We invite provincial news agencies to join us as representatives from rural Saskatchewan municipalities converge to discuss, debate timely topics, elect officials and hear the critical issues of Saskatchewan’s rural members.