CANADA - “Winter is a really good time to sit down and have a look at your water resources and identify any risks,” says Melissa Orr-Langner, agricultural water engineer, Alberta Agriculture and Rural development, Edmonton.
“It’s the perfect season is to spend some time working on your long-term water management plan (LTWMP).”
A LTWMP will help to ensure that a farm has adequate and sustainable water sources to meet the present and future water supply and water quality needs, says Orr-Langner.
“Although individual LTWMP’s may vary, all plans should address the security of a supply during drought periods, as well as ways to protect the supply from contamination or improve water quality. Ideally the LTWMP should cover the complete extent of your farming operation, either owned or regularly rented (if you are allowed access to the water supplies or sources available on them).
"Some more remote quarters or parcels of land can be left out if they do not have a water shortage and the water cannot be considered a water asset that can be shared with the rest of the farm.”
The key parts of a LTWMP plan are:
- a map identifying all the water sources on a farm including those not currently in use
- an estimation of the total amount of water the operation needs in a year
- an estimation of the amount of water the operation has or is capable of producing
- a calculation of whether there is a surplus or shortfall in water sources
- an assessment of any risks that might impact sources
- identifying actions to address any risks
“Some of the examples of risks you might identify might be inadequately sized or poorly placed dugouts, or old wells that might pose a contamination threat of the groundwater source,” says Orr-Langner.
“You should also identify any sources that are susceptible to drought or any contamination risks that are on the farm.”
Orr-Langner says the plan itself may suggest some proposed projects or actions. “Some of these may be expansion of water sources, such as undersized dugouts, or the creation of new water sources such as dugouts or wells. You may also want to look for new efficiencies in your operation, such as pipelines to transfer water to areas where it is needed.
“There is funding available under Growing Forward 2 for new water sources such as wells and dugouts, as well as for decommissioning of old wells or well pits,” adds Orr-Langner.
“In order to be eligible for this funding, you’ll need a long-term water management plan and have it reviewed and approved by an ARD water specialist prior to the project being started.”
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