Some advocates say expanding the amount of irrigation used in Canada could help farmers weather droughts associated with climate change.
Irrigation has been used for more than 100 years in semi-arid parts of Alberta.
The province has a network of man-made canals and pipelines that transport water to farmers’ fields in its driest regions.
Now, the province and federal government are spending $932 million to modernize and expand some of that irrigation infrastructure.
Agriculture Canada predicts the changing climate will mean increased reliance on irrigation in years to come, even in parts of the country that haven’t traditionally needed it.
But skeptics point out that the heavy use of irrigation can reduce the amount of water available for other purposes, and can lead to soil problems such as increased salinity.