The province's $4 billion water management infrastructure was announced back in 2020.

The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities would like to hear an update on what's going on.

SARM's President Ray Orb says after some very hard years of drought, producers, rural communities and RM's would see some benefits from the construction and added irrigation.

He says the project could more than double the irrigated land in the province, not only opening new farmland to consistent water supplies but also facilitating industrial and potash mining operations.

SARM points out that the Lake Diefenbaker Irrigation Project, once completed will provide water to over 500,000 acres of farm and grain land, improve food security, lessen reliance on imported agricultural products, create more jobs in processing and transportation, and increase the Gross Domestic Product by an estimated $40 to $80 billion.

Orb says the government has already allocated $45.5 million for preliminary engineering and environmental work on the first phase of the project and has said construction could start in 2023.

"At this time, most of the work beyond rehabilitating existing canals is in the conceptual phase, and there are many unanswered questions."

He says they know that there was engineering done, consultants involved, public meetings and a lot of meetings with rural municipalities around the west side of Lake Diefenbaker and they just want to get up to speed with what's happening.

SARM is rallying for an update on Phase 1, in Division 5, which was deemed one of the most shovel-ready projects in the province. 

He notes that they recognize this is a long-haul project and the positive impact it will have for RM's they'd like to see Project 1 launch sooner rather than later.

"With 90% of the current canal already in place, we need to know when our RMs will see water flow and processing, and employment opportunities come to light. We anticipate the economic boost for several smaller communities, and nine RMs, when Phase 2 begins with the buildout of Project 2 Westside, which will not only add 260,000 acres of irrigated land, but also increase construction job opportunities, farm expansion and traffic into these communities."

To hear Glenda-Lee's conversation with SARM President Ray Orb click on the link below.