The Saskatchewan Water Security Agency (WSA) will be meeting with local stakeholders shortly to discuss potentially increasing irrigation from Reid Lake.

Over the last year, the WSA has been performing a hydrological study on the body, that was cultivated in the 1940s, to determine if an irrigation project could be realistic.

"We've undertaken the scientific background for the project," said Jeremy Cockrill, the minister responsible for the WSA. "Looking at all the inflows to Reid Lake and the outflows and understanding water patterns over the last several years and over the history of us operating the dam."

Their find show that 4,000 acre-feet (1.3 billion gallons) of water could be taken from the reservoir without having any effect on municipality users (including the City of Swift Current), recreation users, and existing irrigation.

"Without changing current operating guidelines for the dam or without affecting water allocation for other users and producers in the watershed," he said. "Obviously when there is additional capacity that's when we start to look at how we can expand irrigation." 

Nine different producers and companies have approached the WSA to acquire water rights to Reid Lake over the last decade. The interest has fueled the Crown corporation to investigate increasing its irrigation capacity as it would help the province move towards its 2030 target of adding 85,000 irrigated acres. 

"Adding irrigation to an area that's seen some difficult crops due to drought over the last number of years is also a good opportunity for the southwest," he said. 

The WSA has already been in contact with the Duncairn Cabin Owners Association to share some information and help answer some questions. 

Their next step is to meet with local stakeholders (the City, Herbert, Rush Lake, Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association, and Saskatchewan Cattlemen's Association) in the coming weeks to analyze the research the WSA has collected and examine a new irrigation possibility.

"This development has to be done in a responsible way," he said. "We have a process we adjudicate and evaluate developments from a water perspective. We're doing that in this process here and look forward to engaging with local groups and sharing what we found over the last year."

The decision to expand irrigation into Reid Lake is held by the WSA and if they decide to move forward with a project for water rights, they will open an application process.

"We have a scoring matrix that prioritizes those applications based on location, where they'd be pulling the water from, and their readiness to develop," he said.  

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