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SW Sask. program focuses on secure water supply

A new water infrastructure program for farmers and ranchers in Saskatchewan’s dry southwest will focus on cutting the impact of drought by securing water supplies for the future.

The $6 million program, pledged in the provincial budget in March, will include three prongs: emergency short-term supply, permanent on-farm supply and long-term wells to serve farmers and ranchers

“The emergency component will provide some immediate access to water while permanent projects, such as wells and pasture pipelines are being developed,” Ag Minister Bob Bjornerud said in a release Thursday outlining details of the program.

The overall Farm and Ranch Water Infrastructure Program is targeted at farmers, ranchers and RMs in the designated drought area.

The emergency funding is a one-time measure for areas of critical water shortage. Funds provide cost-sharing to RMs in designated drought areas to cover up to half of eligible project costs, up to $10,000 per project.

Projects may include pumps in reservoirs or other water supplies, temporary tank-loader facilities and alternate use of existing wells and other surface water initiatives. The emergency project application deadline is June 17.

On-farm, community wells

The program has two other on-going components beyond the emergency funding: an on-farm component for wells and buried pipelines, and a community well component.

The on-farm component will provide a cost-sharing grant to cover up to half of eligible costs, while the community well component provides a cost-sharing grant to cover up to two-thirds of eligible costs, the province said.

Projects eligible under the on-farm component include wells, shallow buried pasture pipelines and deep-buried pipelines (with a maximum grant of $60,000 for deep-buried pipeline).

On-farm projects approved under Tier 1 of the Canada-Saskatchewan Water Supply Expansion Program (CSWSEP) will be eligible for a provincial top-up grant, as long as work began before the provincial program was first announced March 19. Projects that started after March 19 but before the May 30 CSWSEP deadline aren’t eligible for CSWSEP and would have to be submitted separately to the provincial ag ministry by June 30.

Under the community well component, RMs in the designated areas of the southwest are eligible to apply, and requirements, approvals, deadlines and the application address are the same as for the on-farm component. Community wells for non-potable water are also eligible for funds.

Eligible RMs

RMs adjacent to the drought designated area and south of the South Saskatchewan River may request to be included in the program. To be considered, an RM will have to provide weather data, representative of the entire RM, showing that the RM experienced drought conditions in 2007.

To start the ball rolling on such a request, or to get more information about the program, farmers, ranchers and RM representatives can call toll-free 877-874-5365, the province said.

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