This year has been a wonderful year for irrigated crops; the weather has been cooperating and the irrigation season started with ample storage in all reservoirs.
While our empathy goes out to dryland farmers who may be suffering stress from the hot and dry weather; this information bulletin is to provide information to irrigators in the SMRID regarding our current situation and what we predict for the future.
Currently storage in the upstream reservoirs is at normal levels. St. Mary Reservoir is at 67% of capacity and Milk River Ridge is 94% of capacity. Waterton is 58% of capacity but water is being moved from Waterton to St. Mary Reservoir.
Internally we are at lower than normal capacity in many reservoirs. Of particular interest to many are the levels in Chin Reservoir. Chin is at 26% of capacity. While this may seem alarming to some it is in fact the reason we have Chin. When demand is at such high levels the demand for irrigation downstream of Chin outstrips our ability to fill Chin due to the limited capacity of the canal system feeding Chin.
For the immediate future we will replenish the levels in Chin Reservoir and 40 Mile Reservoirs once demand diminishes towards the end of this season; in the months of September and October.
Looking at the current situation of storage and demand I believe that there will be enough storage remaining at the end of the season to undertake a normal startup of irrigation. Two factors that will affect next year’s successful irrigation season are the snowpack this coming winter and how much demand remains for this year.
The message that SMRID is conveying is that there is no current concern about water supply, but that all irrigators can affect how the startup will be next year by the responsible use of water this year.
St. Mary River Irrigation District.