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The board of directors for the Permian Valley Water Co-op has approved its first ever drought plan.

The plan took about a year to complete and will provide direction to the utility during drought periods. The plan is designed to be proactive to the possibility of a drought situation, and involves the key steps of monitoring, mitigation, responding and recovery.

Water Co-op CEO Greg Archibald says the PVWC has now asked each of its 14 member municipalities to put their own drought plans together so that they are able to take direct action in their respective jurisdictions.

"As an example, our plan says that we're going to do all of this monitoring and mitigation stuff, and if we get to the point where we don't have enough water, we would cut back on a proportional level based on the usage for the municipalities and our other customers for the last three years. So, we would give that to the municipalities and they would have to come up with their own rules when it comes to watering lawns or whatever. That's not our business, that's the municipality's business. We are just going to give them less water and their bylaws and their plans will have to speak to that."

One of the key components to drought mitigation involves a number of planned capital projects that will allow the utility to move water from one part of the region to another when needed and do that as quickly and efficiently as possible through its pipeline network.

Archibald says one of the first projects they will start on in 2019 is a new pipeline connecting the Morris water plant to the community of St. Jean. That work includes an upgrade to the Morris plant which will allow the facility to produce a greater volume of water. All of that comes with an estimated price tag of $5.75 million.

Archibald says bank loans worth $10 million in combination with successive water rate increases starting in the new year will help fund their planned capital projects over the next five years.

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