Important Notice: 2024 Irrigation Season Water Supply Update FEBRUARY 2024

Feb 15, 2024

Important Notice: 2024 Irrigation Season Water Supply Update February 2024

Dear Irrigators,

We wish to provide you with an update on the water supply status, as of February 12, 2024 sourced from Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation. During the winter season the storage level in the District’s reservoirs remains relatively stable.

The Headworks reservoirs comprised of the Waterton, St. Mary and Milk River Ridge reservoirs, continue to experience minor gains since the end of the irrigation season, and now contain a storage level of 140,000 acre-feet.

As you can see in the below Combined Irrigation Storage for the Headworks reservoirs, we are still below the Lower Quartiles for February.

We are now at 285,000 acre-feet of storage for the entire St. Mary Project, which represents 47% of our combined Headworks and District reservoirs winter storage target levels. Our winter storage target is estimated at 78% of our Irrigation Storage FSL (Full Supply Limit) to accommodate spring run off and precipitation events.

Snowpack continues to increase since the middle of January. All three stations are still below the lower quartile. As you can see from the below Snow Pillow charts, the majority of the snowfall is not received until February – April in a normal year. We have yet to receive our meaningful snowfall. Snow Pillow information can be monitored at Alberta Environment and Parks


We participated in Workshop # 1 of 3 on February 9, 2024 facilitated by WaterSMART Solutions with Water License holders in the province of Alberta to share information and work towards the development of water sharing agreements in the event drought conditions continue through the 2024 irrigation season. The goal is to develop four voluntary, collaborative water sharing agreements for the Red Deer, Bow, Oldman and Southern Tributaries (Waterton, Belly and St. Mary) River sub basins. These sub basins comprise the larger South Saskatchewan River water basin. The meeting was well attended with over 47 water license holders and member from the Government of Alberta and additional observers attending.

Information gathered from break out groups by sector and sub basin users will be input into the South Saskatchewan River Operational Model (SSROM), which can model many different water use scenarios within each sub basin based on supply and demand criteria. The participants in this project will meet again on March 1, 2024 for workshop #2 of 3 to review the preliminary results from the SSROM modelling scenarios with the end goal of developing water sharing agreements. SMRID and all of the Irrigation Districts are committed to sharing water with Municipalities and Industry to ensure all water users have access to water during this drought period.

Drought Preparedness Workshops are organized by the Province of Alberta through Alberta Environment and Protected Areas (AEPA).


We continue to strongly advise each member to commence planning their crops accordingly considering the possibility of not receiving a full allocation of water per acre for the 2024 irrigation season. We remain committed to closely monitoring the snowpack and precipitation levels over the next two months and will keep you updated on any developments on the following dates:

March 15, 2024

April 3, 2024 (AGM)

As farmers we know that when it comes to the weather, we can only hope for the best and plan for the worst.  We are grateful for recent snowfalls and are hopeful that the mountains in our watersheds will receive the significant snowfalls in late February, March, and April that we need to bolster our snowpack.

George Lohues
The Board of Directors, St. Mary River Irrigation District