Coming into Spring, it's fair to say the region was a little nervous about water supply and potential drought conditions returning after a winter with little snowfall.

"With the lack of snow, that translated into lack of run off, but these soaker rains we've had the past two weeks have been very welcome," explained Pembina Valley Water Co-op C.E.O. Dale Toews in the latest edition of Ripple Effect presented by the Red River Basin Commission. "Just recharging those dugouts makes an impact on us. When the dugouts are full, then they're not pulling from our treated water systems."

From a regional water supply perspective, Toews noted things are looking pretty good.

"Stephenfield (lake) is full," he said. "The Red River is flowing. It's clearly lower than we expect to see it at this time of year, but it's got a steady 3,800 cubic feet per second, which is still really good volume, and they've had some good rains on the U.S. side the last few weeks, so that all helps us."

Usage is top of mind for the Co-op at this time of year, as it heads into its traditional Spring crunch.

"It's that typical end of May and into June season where we can just see our demands skyrocket," he noted "We're talking about increased demands anywhere from 30 to 50% from one day to the next, so it's a real shock to the system when you see those kinds of sharp spikes."

Trying to manage that kind of use can be a challenge, especially when we're talking as large of a system as the Pembina Valley Water Co-op, with volumes varying that much in such short periods of time.

"When we start getting into those really hot temperatures at the end of May and June, that's when we traditionally will see those spikes in our demand," he said. "The ag sprayers are out during this period, and the general community is outside, whether it's setting up their pools, washing their patios and houses off, sprinklers outside that whole sort of thing. There's definitely a correlation between the spike in temperatures, and the spike in water usage."

Toews noted what we're seeing right now is there's a lot of crop going in very quickly, and that can mean spraying demands across the area could come at the same time. 

"Again, there are many variables in that, if we get rains or temperature swings, but we're expecting to see some pretty significant demands this spring season."

With the usual peak demand season only a couple weeks away, some Co-op members have been sharing messaging with their respective residents regarding spreading out water usage this month, for example, by filling pools early or completing yard projects that require a lot of water, right now.

"That message of using water wisely, and just being mindful of your water use, it's a message we've been working on with the municipalities, and it's great to see it's out there," Toews said. "It's not only a Co-op issue, because the municipalities also have their own infrastructure, and we all have to be able to keep up with the demand, so we're all working together on this. It's about taking a bit of a proactive approach, and being able to make some small, relatively simple changes just to avoid further challenges down the road."

You can listen to the latest episode of Ripple Effect, presented by the Red River Basin Commission, below.