Southwestern Sask. water project funds boosted

An infrastructure program to bring water to farms, ranches and rural municipalities in Saskatchewan’s southwest will get an extra $14 million in federal and provincial cash.

The province first launched its Farm and Ranch Water Infrastructure Program (FRWIP) last spring with $6 million, which later last summer was topped up with $9 million in federal funds through the AgriRecovery program, allowing a higher level of funding for farms’ and communities’ individual projects.

Funding announced Friday brings the total federal and provincial investments in FRWIP to $29 million, to address the “high demand” for the program.

Farmers, ranchers and rural municipalities submitted almost 3,400 applications to the program, the province said Friday.

FRWIP provides funding for on-farm wells, pipelines and dugouts, as well as community wells. The program had an application deadline of Dec. 3, 2008 and a project completion deadline of Nov. 1 this year.

Last year’s AgriRecovery top-up allowed the province to expand FRWIP funding for on-farm projects to cover 65 per cent of eligible costs, up from 50 per cent. FRWIP funding for community well projects covers 85 per cent of eligible costs, up from 66 per cent.

The AgriRecovery funding also allowed FRWIP to fund installation of electric power, up to $30,000, and to add generators as an eligible on-farm cost.

“Producers need water to succeed and this Government’s investment in wells and dugouts will pay off for generations,” federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, a western Saskatchewan MP, said in a release Friday.

“I grew up on a farm near Rosetown so I know producers can’t always count on the rain. We’re making investments like this to make sure producers have water sources they can count on in dry years.”

“Given the number of applications, this program has been well received by farmers, ranchers and RMs in southwest Saskatchewan,” provincial Agriculture Minister Bob Bjornerud said Friday. “This $29 million will help to develop long-term water infrastructure that will benefit producers for many years to come.”

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