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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - September 25, 1971, Lethbridge, Alberta ---------------Solurdoy, Siplcmbir 55, 1971 THE IETH8RIDCI rlEKAlD 21 Waterton Dam and Waterton River spillway starts project Belly River chute through Belly River back into irrigation system Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration Meeting the challenge of waiei demands Electrically-operated gates By RIC SWIHART Staff Writer The Prairie Farm Rehabili- tation Act was passed by the federal government in April 19C5 to deal with the imme- diate problems of drought and depression then blighting agri- culture on the Canadian Prai- rie1! and this primary thought .lias resulted in a booming ag- ricultural industry for Canada to this day. PFRA work in southern Al- berta began in 1946 with the start of construction of the St. Mary Irrigation Project that was designed to allow a larger proportion of the water flow- ing in the Waterton, Belly, St. Mary and Milk Rivers for irri- gation use. The federal government agreed to construct the main supply reservoirs and connect- ing canals and the province agreed to supply the irrigation distribution system. Full development of Canada's share of the water resources in these international streams is now completed, providing de- pendable water supplies to eventually extend irrigation to acres of land between Spring Coulee and Medicine Hat. The key structure on the pro- ject is the St. Dam, lo- cated 35 miles southwest of Lethbridge. The dam, which creates a 17-mile long reser voir with a storage capacity o 320.000 acre-feet, i s made o compacted earth and is 20: [eet high and a half mile long The second stage of develop- ment, which was lo control the waters of the Belly River, was .started in 1956. This involved the construction of a diversion weir to divert the Belly River and a canal from the river lo another acres. from there to the Belly River. the St. Mary Reservoir, a dis-1 The final phase of construe- j Construction of the Waterion i tance of 27 miles. lion included the damming of Dam started in 1958. It is 180 This extended irrigation to; the Waterton River and a canal; feet high and three miles long and has a tolal capacity of 140.000 acre-feet of water. A five-mile canal a cap- acity of cubic feet per Inverted siphon spanning Pine Pound Coulee second, dug from the Waterton reservoir to (he Belty River re- servoir connects three rivers. Since tlie Walerton Dam the furthest wesl in the local control for PFRA out of Leth- bridge it is the starting point for a verbal tour. Located 25 miles south of Fort Macleod. the main canal starts from the east bank not far from the dam proper. It moves easlerly five miles to the Belly River Chute which drops wa'ter ]30 feet to the Belly River. Here Ihe water is trans- palled one mile in (he river to be deposited back into the can- al system for the trip Ihrough the Blocd Indian Reserve to (lie SI. Mary Reservoir. The walcr from tliis reser- voir is delivered through a con- crete tunnel 17 feet in diameter to a main outlet canal a short distance from the dam. Three miles east of the out- let, the waler passes through a double inverted siphon lo cross the deep Pine Pound Cou- lee. Eighl miles further, the water enters Jensen Reservoir with a capacity of 4 000 acre- feet. After leaving the reservoir, the water tumbles down Taylor Chute which is the largest drop structure in the project. Twelve miles further east, the water enters Ridge Reser- voir, located seven miles soulh of Raymond. This reservoir has a capacity of 100.000 acre-feet and represents the spot where Ihe provincial control takes over from federal jurisdiction. From this reservoir, all the irrigation water is taken and from llu's point all future ex- pansion plans will originate. St. Mary Dam spillway capacity cfs is fisherman's dream Photos by RIc Swihart Walter Kerber System expansion on PFRA plans The Prairie Farm Rehabili- tation Administration has blue printed and charted all the areas in southern Alberta which the present allotment of water, allows, and if the total plan of' project expansion is followed I to completion, the number of 1 irrigated acres in the soulh will be more than doubled. At present the PFRA pro- ject services acres through nine land tracts. Tiie expansion plans call for an add- itional 316.500 acres which can be developed: ,the HigNine, Lethbridge Southeast and B'ood Reserve projects. The Ilighlinc Project is the next expansion Ihe PFRA will do and it will involve acres reaching fitm Chin lo Bow Manrf in a strip adjoining immediately soulh of land eur- renlly irrigated. Bob Weils, manager of Ihcj Lethbridgc Branch of PFRA said the construction design is complete will) demand for Itie water Ihe deciding f.'iclor for a start on cons.Tiiciion. ''This project could come 'airly quickly if dry condilions arc he said. "The j 'Icvclopmcnt of irrigation do- j lends on vvMfher." The Highline project will mean constructing a siphon icross Ihe Chin Coulee nboul six miles soulh of B.irmvcll and constructing Hie necessary can- al which will run in n simlli- oasterly direction to five miles north of Foremost mill Ihcn urn directly north, ending five miles oast of Bow Island. Included in the plan are four longer range plnns call or the Lcthbridgc Southeast project to release another acres to irrigation. This is the area that would service the: New Dayton, Warner. S k i f f- j Foremost, Elzikom north to the proposed High- line project. i Utilizing the Ridge Resevoir i seven miles south of Raymond. I a canal would be constructed east lo McNab and over to Weslon Lake, south of Tyrrcll Lake. Through a system of res' an Inlernational water agree- e r v o i r s lo be constructed i ment, this project could be ulil- through Verdigris Coulee. I ized as a method of turning the Anether canal would be built: U.S. share of Ihe Waterton- east for ]5 miles and then Belly River water back to the north for miles and then, U.S. east to 12 miles south of Nemis- j A canal would have lo be cam. 1 built from the last resevoir to An off-shoot of this proposed j the Milk Hiver to meet up irilh project is the question of United a U.S. irrigation system 20 States Canadian water use. If j miles southeast of the town of Canada and Ihe U.S. ever sign I Milk River. The "share'1 would come from Waterton Dam, through Ihe entire PFRA system, and back into the U.S. The plans call for acres of lanrf proposed for de- velopment on the Blood Indian Reserve. This land will have to be serviced from the main canal between the Waterton and SI. Mary's dams. The 660-foot Belly River chute drops water 130 feet into river basin ;