The Future of Irrigation: Will the Highest Bidder Get the Water?

January 6, 2011 :: Ron Renwick
Moderated by Duane Pendergast

Some 1,370,000 acres are assessed for irrigation among thirteen irrigation districts in Southern Alberta. In addition, approximately 280,000 acres are assessed for irrigation outside the irrigation districts. Irrigation waters are however used for much more than growing food. Irrigation infrastructure provides water for many communities and is essential to much of the commerce, industry, wildlife, wetlands and recreation in Southern Alberta.

Increasing demand for food production and economic growth will provide challenges for the irrigation industry. The speaker will explain how efficiency gains have occurred in irrigation districts delivery systems and farm application methods. The myth of charging for water in an attempt to increase efficiencies or to stimulate production of value added crops will also be discussed.

How will crop trends be affected by climate change? Is the production of biofuels a wise use of irrigation water? Will the demand for irrigation water in Southern Alberta be great enough to justify inter-basin transfer from Northern Alberta?

Speaker: Ron Renwick

Ron Renwick was born and raised on a mixed farm on the Regina Plains of Southern Saskatchewan. He obtained a degree in Agricultural Engineering from University of Saskatchewan in 1972, after which he worked three years at the Hydrology Branch of Saskatchewan Department of Environment and eight years at Ducks Unlimited Canada.

Ron started work at the St Mary River Irrigation District (SMRID) in 1983, first as District Engineer and later as General Manager (2002). Included in Ron’s responsibilities was to manage Irrican Power, SMRID’s three hydro electric plants. He retired in 2009. Ron has served terms as Director for the Alberta Irrigation Projects Association and the Oldman Watershed Council. He is a member of the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta.

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