The wet spring and early summer have put the Pembina Valley Water Co-op (PVWC) in a good supply situation, a much different scenario than in recent years which brought persistent dry summers and a lack of snow in the winter.

Steady rain has filled local dugouts and ponds and replenished the local ground water supply. This, noted CEO Dale Toews, helped the municipally owned utility keep up with demand typically seen with the spring agricultural seeding and spraying season. 

"It's when those supplies dry up and they all turn to Pembina Valley (Water Co-op's) system, that's when we can see some challenging times," he said. 

Toews added, levels on the Co-op's two main raw water sources, the Red River and Stephenfield Lake, are well above normal for this time of year, and its reservoirs are filled to the max. This, he noted, has put them in a good position heading into the rest of summer and fall. 

"Considering the lack of snow this winter, this really shows how those steady rains can be a game-changer. Those rains have put us in a very different position than we thought we might be in at this time," said Toews. 

While the rain that falls here in the Pembina Valley mostly benefits area dugouts and ponds, it doesn't necessarily make it into the PVWC's river intakes because, in the Red River's case, it falls and flows north into Lake Winnipeg. It is steady rainfalls in the U.S. portion of the basin and the resulting flows north that the PVWC relies on get through, explained Toews. 

"The U.S. has been getting a lot of the moisture lately that we have and so, that has really kept the river levels up." 

This has Toews optimistic that the region won't be faced with water-use restrictions like in recent years.

"That's the hope anyways. If it were to go without rain for July and August, we're still okay. If we go too much longer without moisture, it's hard to say as demands increase," he said, noting the river flows are hard to predict. "What are those river flows going to be like in three, six, eight twelve months? That's the challenge."

Coming out of a dry bout, Toews says all of the water passing through the region on the Red River isn't lost on them, adding the opportunity to capture it would be critical for the PVWC going forward. 

"Right now, we have some water raw storage, but we don't have enough to really carry us through. That's the tricky part. We're so dependent on future river flows and it would be quite a game-changer if we could find a way to capture that water and store it, but that's a whole initiative that we are looking into."

The conversation is also being had around additional water sources.