Changes at the Pembina Valley Water Co-op

New co-chairs for the Pembina Valley Water Co-op - R.M. of Dufferin Reeve George Grey (left) and Rhineland Municipality Reeve Don Wiebe (right) with CEO Greg Archibald. LORI PENNER/Red River Valley Echo

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This year has brought a number of changes for the Pembina Valley Water Co-op (PVWC) board of directors.
During their annual meeting in February, a major shift occurred in the representation on the board, due to retirements and the fall municipal elections.
In addition to two new co-chairs, a new executive committee and a new audit committee were also identified. Don Wiebe, Reeve for the Municipality of Rhineland, and R.M. of Dufferin Reeve George Grey have taken on new roles as co-chairs for the organization, which is composed of one representative from each of the 14 member municipalities in southern Manitoba.
Grey says he’s excited to work with Wiebe, under the leadership of CEO Greg Archibald, to move the PVWC in the direction that it needs to go.
“The Co-op provides a wonderful product of water. There are 59,000 people in the valley who depend on that water, and it’s our job to make sure they’re well-served.”
Grey has represented Dufferin on the board for six years, and says he’s eager to help the Pembina Valley Water Co-op reach higher goals.
“It made sense for Don and I to represent each end of the spectrum, to bring our ideas and wants and needs to the table, and make the Co-op flourish from each end.”
He says, like other municipalities, the biggest challenge in his region is juggling supply and demand. “We have a great appetite for water and a compromised water supply. Stephenfield Lake is only so big, and there are 7,000 people who depend on that water in our particular part of the world. There is an irrigation component and an agricultural component that draws heavily on that, so there is a happy medium that has to be reached to keep everybody supplied. We’re embarking on a journey to make sure we can make that happen.”
Wiebe is also excited to work with Grey as the Water Co-op moves forward.
“It’s always been important to have solid representation from Rhineland on the board. The Co-op was put together as a regional concept and we believed in that concept, and I was happy to join that. I am also very pleased that there are a bunch of projects on the go that George and I can be a part of. We have to make sure those things happen, because that increases the supply and the consistency of pressure, and given all the goals in our region, that’s a critical thing.”
Working on a drought plan, he says, is also vital for the Co-op. “What do you do when that supply gets compromised, and we’re working on that as well.”
He says he knows there will be challenges ahead, which include adapting to the new water quality regulations. “We have to work with our systems to accommodate that. I think George and I can help keep a regional focus on things. Our values align very closely and we do this in the spirit of cooperation.”
The Pembina Valley Water Co-op is the third-largest utility in Manitoba and has the largest distribution system stretching over 9,000 square kilometres.
Grey says the cooperative effort of PVWC is one of a kind.
“It’s quite unique to have 14 municipalities and all the people working for the same goal to provide high quality water at an affordable price to all the constituents of these municipalities. I think it’s a template for all of Manitoba. It was started with a vision and hard work. We’re seeing the result of that hard work. We’re very proud of that.”
All residents of Rhineland currently have potable water, and in Dufferin, that number sits at around 85 per cent.
“Twenty years ago, that was zero, because we didn’t have a plant,” Grey says.
“That speaks to the success of the Co-op.”
Both Grey and Wiebe are excited to be a part of the many projects that are already in the works.
This includes a new pipeline from Morris to St. Jean, improvements to the Morris water treatment plant including upgraded water filtration from 67 litres/second to 100 litres/second, and plans to build a booster station to help increase water supply to the Winkler/Morden corridor.
Future plans would see a new treated water reservoir at the Letellier water treatment plant, upgraded treatment capacity at the Stephenfield plant and additional piping capacity between Roland and the Winkler/Morden corridor.