According to a study commissioned by the Alberta Irrigation Projects Association, every cubic metre of water delivered for irrigation adds three dollars to the province's GDP and two dollars in labour income.

The study also shows that for every dollar of irrigation related crop, livestock and food processing sales, total GDP increased by $2.54 and labour income increased by $1.64.  
overall irrigation contributes $3.6 billion each year to the province's GDP averaging $2550 per acre of land irrigated.  

The study also says the governments of Alberta and Canada benefit to the tune of $1.3 billion in income annually from irrigation-based economic activity.

"We have known that irrigation is the lifeblood of many communities in southern Alberta but we wanted to be able to quantify our overall economic impact in Alberta" explained association Chair Erwin Braun.

"A robust irrigation system plays an important role in the economic, environmental and social fabric of Alberta's agriculture industry. Our government will continue to support, build and maintain an efficient and sustainable irrigation system to ensure our producers are able to grow and diversify the industry while keeping thousands of Albertans employed," said Oneil Carlier, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry.

Paterson Earth and Water Consulting from Lethbridge also concluded in the study the irrigation agri-food sector contributes about 20% of the total provincial agri-food sector GDP on less than 5% of the province's cultivated land base.

They also say irrigated crop and livestock production has resulted in 38,000 jobs and food processing has created in another 7,000 full time equivalent positions.

 Benefits from irrigation water and infrastructure used for non-irrigation purposes, such as recreation, hydropower generation, and drought mitigation, generated an additional    $85 million to the provincial GDP and $71 million in labour income.

The study calls for long term water and drought management strategies, including increasing Alberta's water storage capacity and better communication with international markets about the environmental and economic sustainability of Alberta's irrigation agri-food production and new food production opportunities to meet growing world-wide demand.