PFRA Wants Out Of Irrigation
The Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA), a branch of Agriculture and Agri- Food Canada (AAFC) was established by the federal government in 1935 to help mitigate the impacts of a prolonged and disastrous drought which forced thousands of people to leave the prairies between 1931 and 1941. PFRA’s original mandate was to deal with the problems of soil erosion and lack of water resources required for agricultural development in the drought-affected areas of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
To address the inherent lack of water resources on the prairies, PFRA was for many years heavily involved in large-scale water development and conservation programs. These programs were targeted towards the development of sustainable national standards for the agriculture industry and the promotion of environmental stewardship within the sector.
The Consul-Nashlyn Irrigation District was one of the districts that the PFRA was involved in. The PFRA ran the water at irrigation time as well as looking after the Cypress Lake Reservoir from which the water came.
In 2002 the AAFC announced that they would begin to transfer the operation of the Irrigation Districts to the land owners of the district; this included Consul-Nashlyn Irrigation District. Over the years the AAFC has turned most of the costs of operation over to the district irrigators. In 2017 the AAFC plans to have the transfer completed; they will only maintain the dams and reservoirs thereafter.
The district irrigators have to hire ditch riders and do repairs to structures in the district etc. The districts are governed under the Irrigation Act of Saskatchewan under The Saskatchewan Water Security Agency.
Lodge Creek, Vidora and Middle Creek Irrigation Districts are provincial and the irrigators run the projects themselves. They used to be under provincial C&D (Conservation and Development). The provincial government owns the canals and major supply ditches, but the irrigators hire their own ditch riders. They are required by the Sask. Watershed Authority to follow the Irrigation Act. The only thing these districts have to do with PFRA is their reservoirs. Lodge Creek Irrigation District uses Altawan Reservoir and pays the PFRA so much for storage. The Vidora Irrigation District uses Cypress Lake and pays a storage fee. Middle Creek uses the Middle Creek Reservoir and pays PFRA for storage.