May 14, 2019 Update: The Many Glacier snow pillow melted a bit early this year, but the Flat Top and Akamina snow pillows are holding a bit longer. Waterton Reservoir is filling quickly and the Waterton to Belly River and Belly River to St. Mary Reservoir AEP canals are running available water across. St. Mary Reservoir is dropping as it is serving SMRID orders and is replenishing the volume used from Milk River Ridge Reservoir during startup. The SMRID, TID and RID allocations remain at 12". Operations staff will be carefully tracking and enforcing your allocation. 12" is enough for a successful year when balanced across your rotation. Transfers within districts will be encouraged, but transfers between districts are not be permitted. Ensure best practices for irrigation scheduling to maximize plant utilization and minimize evaporation and drainage losses. Remember that any water saved means power costs saved, and better reservoir levels in the fall.
April 04, 2019 Update: The trend in precipitation has not changed significantly, and the snow pack is stagnating near the lower quartile overall. SMRID reservoir storage is at 94% and Milk River Ridge Reservoir supplying the SMRID headworks is above the winter target level, so we will have no issues with water supply to start the irrigation season. St. Mary Reservoir is only 1/3 full (although 30,000 ac-ft ahead of 2018) and Waterton is slowly filling from empty, so summer supply is currently limited without significant precipitation. SMRID announced at their AGM on April 3rd that they have set their initial water allocation conservatively at 12" and looking at the week of May 6-10 for farm gate deliveries. TID will set our initial allocation at our board meeting April 10th and will review at least each month through the season. We encourage you to plan your operations according to these conditions.
March 18, 2019 Update: The lower elevation snow pillows at Akamina and Many Glacier are continuing to accumulate near median rates. The Many Glacier (mid-elevation - St. Mary Headwaters) is just below median. The Akamina snow pillow (low elevation - Waterton headwaters) was replaced at a different location after the 2017 Kenow fire, so historical comparisons to median are not helpful except to note the rate of accumulation is slightly higher than the previous lower quartile. Flat Top (upper elevation - Waterton/Belly headwaters) was at median in mid-February, but since the start of the cold snap, has slowed considerably, with accumulation approaching the lower quartile. Reservoirs are near normal levels except St. Mary (10 m below normal winter level), and Waterton (below irrigation invert for maintenance). Waterton is expected to fill because of the relatively large contributing watershed, with excess to be moved to St. Mary once Waterton is high enough and the headworks system is primed. System storage is approximately 125,000 ac-ft ahead of 2018.
Summary: Accumulation really slowed down in the upper elevations with that cold snap and is not yet trending back to normal. Lower and mid-elevation snow pillows are near normal. We may have some reduction in the annual allocation that we will initially set in April, with the potential to increase it should we have a return to normal high elevation snow or following a good spring rain. There’s already sufficient snow and reservoir water now to get started and also to meet basic irrigation and other water use needs in 2019.
Alberta Environment and Parks publishes data on Alberta's River Basins. Their website can be found by following the link below:
The St. Mary Project, including TID, is within the Oldman River Basin. We receive our water from the Waterton, St. Mary and Belly Rivers. Snow pillows are tracked to provide an indication of the water available in our natural "mountain reservoirs". Akamina snow pillow is in the Waterton River headwaters, Flat Top Mt. is in the Waterton and Belly River headwaters and Many Glacier Mt is in the St. Mary headwaters.
Links to the Water Supply Outlook, Water Management Reports and various other Maps and Data Summaries are also available from this site.
This information is summarized for us and provided weekly from Water Management Operations (part of AESRD) to assist us in managing our water supply. Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (AARD) provides a summary each spring that provides a statistical analysis of the available water to inform our decisions regarding water allocation.
TID orders our water from SMRID and we are dependent on their schedule for startup. SMRID has advised us that they are planning on having district-wide water available during the week of May 1st, 2017 (weather depending). TID will have water available from SMRID the week before to start flushing and filling our systems. We anticipate that all TID rehabilitation work will be completed by the end of April. Smaller maintenance such as valve replacement will continue as long as possible.
TID water MAY be available for use in some areas starting the week of May 1st. If you would like water earlier than May 1st, please place a water order with your ditchrider as per normal, so that we can prioritize our schedule to attempt to meet your request. Your ditchrider will then advise you when your water will be available. Note that any unused water orders that cannot be reassigned will be assessed against your annual allocation. The annual allocation for 2017 has been set at 18".