Who We Are
The Bow River Irrigation District (BRID) headquarters are located in Vauxhall, Alberta (approximately 2½ hrs. south east of Calgary, Alberta). The BRID owns and operates several hundred kilometres of earth canals and water pipelines, as well as several reservoirs. This infrastructure is used to provide irrigation and domestic water for farming, industry, wildlife, and communities within the district's boundaries.
Water for the BRID is diverted from the Bow River at the Caresland Weir. Lake McGregor, Travers Reservoir, and Little Bow Reservoir are the major water storage reservoirs for the BRID, which are owned and maintained by Alberta Environment, a branch of the Government of Alberta.
The BRID contains the third largest area under irrigation of Alberta's thirteen irrigation districts - as of June 2014, the District has a total irrigated area of 260,000 acres (105,222 hectares) with 248,401.6 acres (100,528.12 hectares) being irrigated
The BRID is administered by an elected Board of Directors and their staff.
The importance of irrigation to Southern Alberta cannot be over-emphasized. Agriculture provides everyone with the basic ingredient needed to sustain life - food. And to improve the efficiency of agriculture, land irrigation is the key requirement. Water dependably supplied by irrigation can increase the productivity of farm land by up to 500 per cent.
The concept for what was to eventually become the BRID began in 1906 with the Southern Alberta Land Company which eventually became the Canada Land and Irrigation Company (CL&IC). Construction actually began in 1909 at the main diversion on the Bow River near Carseland. After delays caused by financial difficulties and the outbreak of World War 1, the first delivery of water took place in 1920. By 1921, 9,400 acres (3,804 hectares) were being irrigated. The acreage under water had increased to 30,000 acres (12,141 hectares) by 1930.
The Canadian Government purchased all the land and assets of the CL&IC in 1950 and turned control over to the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (P.F.R.A.) In 1968, the Bow River Irrigation District was created and took over the Bow River Development Crown Corporation in the Enchant area. In 1974 the BRID was expanded when the federally owned Bow River Project at Vauxhall and Hays was amalgamated with the BRID Headquarters for this organization are located at Vauxhall; about 250 kilometers south east of Calgary. With the completion of a new Office/Shop Complex in 1998, all departments are under one roof situated on a 38 acre parcel of land abutting Vauxhall's northern boundary.
To ensure efficient delivery of water throughout the BRID's distribution system, maintenance and rehabilitation are ongoing processes. Control of seepage from the canals, repair or replacement of canal structures, placement of gravel armour to protect the canal banks from erosion, and control of the weeds that impede water flow are all necessary operations.
Some rehabilitation work takes place throughout the irrigation season while major construction projects must be done during the winter months when water for irrigation is not required.
Pipelines play a major role in the District's rehabilitation program. Most of the smaller canals are being or have already been replaced with closed gravity pipelines. There are many benefits to pipelines including: no seepage, no weed growth, no evaporation. These benefits allow the District to be more efficient with our water and allows for expansion of irrigation acres without the need for extra water diversion.
Co-operation between the Bow River Irrigation District, Alberta Fish & Wildlife, Ducks Unlimited Canada and Partners in Habitat Development has resulted in numerous areas being developed for waterfowl and wildlife habitat. Marginal farming areas near or adjacent to canals may be retained as cover areas or may be further developed as waterfowl habitat. With the rapid depletion of habitat areas due to the expansion of cities and more thorough farming practices, these developments are important and necessary sources of habitat retention.
Crop Production And Community Benefits
Irrigated land produces excellent yields of sugar beets, soft wheat, corn, beans and peas. Sugar beets and various vegetables are important to the area due to the fact that they produce a high dollar value per acre of crop grown.
Alfalfa is one of the crops that requires a large and consistent supply of water which can be supplied by irrigation.
The irrigated area within the BRID is used for the production of many different crops. A processing plant near Vauxhall takes advantage of this production - potatoes are packaged whole or processed into various ready-to-cook forms.
Towns And Villages
Several towns and villages enjoy abundant water supplies due to the irrigation distribution throughout the District. Each town or village must have holding ponds that can hold enough water to supply their needs through the fall and winter months when water is no longer available.
McGregor Reservoir, Travers reservoir, Little Bow Reservoir, Badger Reservoir and Scope Reservoir are but a few of the many lakes that provide opportunities for boating, fishing and other water based recreation within the District. The canals within the District also provide a multitude of areas for the sports angler.
Oil & Gas Exploration
Water made available by the irrigation distribution system is beneficial to the efforts of oil and gas exploration. In addition, revenue gained from these activities assists with the day to day operating expenses of the BRID and helps to maintain a level of service without unduly burdening the water user.