Important Notice: 2024 Irrigation Season Water Supply Update MARCH 2024

Mar 15, 2024

Important Notice: 2024 Irrigation Season Water Supply Update March 2024

Dear Irrigators,

Our latest water supply update, as of March 11, 2024, sourced from Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation indicates that we are on course for a below average water allocation for the 2024 Irrigation Season. The Headworks reservoirs comprised of the Waterton, St. Mary and Milk River Ridge reservoirs, has increased slightly since our last update, and now contains a storage level of 147,000 acre-feet.

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

We are now at 292,000 acre-feet of storage for the entire St. Mary Project, which represents 48% 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.

Although snowpack has increased since our last update in February, it is still below average. Snow Pillow information can be monitored at Alberta Environment and Parks

Flat Top Snow Pillow is normally our largest Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) Contributor and is reporting decent gains from late February to March 11.

The Akamina and Many Glacier Snow Pillows have increased significantly from the last week of February through to March 11 but remain below 2001 levels. Both snow pillows report well below normal.
We completed our last meeting with other water license holders in the province of Alberta on March 13, 2024, to review draft revisions of water sharing Memorandums Of Understanding (MOU) between parties within the Southern Tributaries sub-basin. We anticipate that the six irrigation districts located along the Southern Tributaries will be participating in water sharing MOU but all voluntary participants have yet to be finalized.

Preliminary Water Forecast
Understanding that our farmers need some direction at this time to plan for the season, the Board is forecasting a preliminary water allocation of 8 inches at the farm gate to start the 2024 irrigation season. This forecast may be subject to change. We will be finalizing the water allocation at our Annual General Meeting (AGM) on April 3, 2024 at the Agri Food Hub in Lethbridge. We will communicate the official allocation to all irrigators after the AGM.

SMRID Annual General Meeting (AGM)
Wednesday, April 3, 2024
3401 South Parkside Drive S
Lethbridge, AB

Deanna Klassen from the AFSC Taber office will also be speaking at our AGM on April 3 to discuss their crop insurance program for the upcoming 2024 crop year. You can find out information regarding the Water Allocation Restriction Benefit on pages 6 & 7 of AFSC’s Benefits Booklet

We will continue to communicate with our irrigators providing scheduled monthly updates throughout the growing season. The allocation will be subject to change based on reporting of snowpack yield and reservoir levels as the season progresses.

George Lohues

The Board of Directors, St. Mary River Irrigation District