About the EID

Operation of the District

The Eastern Irrigation District operates under the authority of the Irrigation Districts Act [c. I-11, RSA 2000]. The primary purpose of the district is set out in its governing legislation as follows:

Purposes and powers of a district

  •  The purpose of each district is:
    •  to convey and deliver water through the irrigation works of the district in accordance with this Act,
    •  to divert and use quantities of water in accordance with the terms and conditions of its license under the Water Act,
    •  to construct, operate and maintain the irrigation works of the district, and
    •  to maintain and promote the economic viability of the district.
  •  To carry out its purposes a district has the capacity and, subject to this Act, the regulations and the by-laws, the rights, powers and privileges of a natural person.

The Eastern Irrigation District is the successor to the Canadian Pacific Railway Co. Ltd [CPR]. The CPR commenced the irrigation project in the early 1900’s as a means of profiting from the land grants provided to them by the Dominion Government of Canada. In 1935, irrigators in the Brooks region completed negotiations with the CPR that saw their irrigation operations pass over to the farmers in the district. The district has been operated by the irrigators under various provincial legislation since that time.

History of the District

What is the EID? The Eastern Irrigation District is one of thirteen Irrigation Districts found in Alberta. The EID has the largest land base and the second largest number of irrigated acres of these Irrigation Districts.

The EID is farmer owned and operated and is situated in South Eastern Alberta’s mixed grass prairie eco-system. There are 1.5 million acres within the District’s boundaries, making the EID 500 square kilometers (200 square miles) larger then the Province of Prince Edward Island. The Red Deer River forms the north east boundary and the Bow River the south west boundary of the District. The EID includes over 285,000 acres of irrigated crop land, 600,000 acres of prairie grasslands owned by the EID, with the remainder being non-irrigated crop land, privately owned grasslands and three Provincial Parks (Kinbrook Island Provincial Park, Tillebrook Provincial Park and Dinosaur Provincial Park).

The irrigation system was originally developed by the Canadian Railroad Company (CPR). The land base was given to the CPR as part of the final payment of land by the Dominion of Canada for building the railroad across Canada. The railroad people felt that irrigation would encourage settlers to the area giving them income from land sales and increased use of the railroad to ship crops. Construction of the system began in 1910 with the first irrigation water flowing in 1914. The original concept of settlement and crop transportation was basically sound, but they found that the cost of operating the irrigation system was prohibitive. In 1935 a delegation of irrigation farmers negotiated a deal with the CPR to take over control of the project. Thus the beginning of the present day Eastern Irrigation District.