Private Irrigators Pilot Project


The purpose of this project is to accurately account for the irrigation water use in the Alberta portion of the Milk River watershed.  Flow meters are attached to all irrigator's pipes and water use information is collected in near real-time using remote data loggers and communication devices (view map, 354 KB JPG).  Once the irrigation season starts and the website is operational water managers will know how much water is being diverted from the Milk River at any moment.

This project is a pilot study and the results will help determine whether or not this is a practical water management strategy in Alberta.  The Milk River was chosen as the pilot location because it is a relatively small basin and it was possible to put flow meters at all participating pump sites.  More importantly, the Milk River was chosen because the information collected during this study will help members of the International Joint Commission Task Force better understand water use in the watershed. 


Flow meters were successfully installed as of the Fall 2006.  All sites have been equipped with communication devices.

Three types of meters are being evaluated: 1) McCrometer bolt on turbine 2) MUIS Controls Insertion Electromagnetic Flow Meter and 3) Greyline Acoustic Doppler DFM-IV Flow Meter.  These flow meters all offer very low impedance or resistance to flow. All three of the flow meters were tested initially by Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.

There are 2 types of communication devices using cellular and satellite technology that have been installed.  They are Optimum Instruments and ROM Communications.  Totalized volumes from these devices are sent to the website approximately every four hours.  Once data is on the website Alberta Environment personnel can view the total water use and see who is currently irrigating their crops.  Also, participating water users can view their own personal water use information accessible only by personal password.


This study is being conducted by Alberta Environment, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development - Water Resources Branch with assistance from Water Management Services.  Thanks to everyone for their cooperation and participation in this study!

For further information contact:

Werner Herrera, Alberta Environment


[email protected]


Lawrence Schinkel, Alberta Agriculture


[email protected]