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Water conservancy district makes changes to loan program

Aron Balok, Pecos Valley Artesian Conservancy District superintendent (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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Board members of the Pecos Valley Artesian Conservancy District have approved some changes to the loan program it administers to fund projects within the district designed to conserve water usage.

The year-round program has quite a bit of funds available, $2.69 million, board members were told Tuesday morning by PVACD staff during a regular monthly board meeting. The fund is a revolving one, where all principal and interest payments are put back into the program for future loans.

Prior to the meeting, some board members had talked with water rights holders in the district to ask their opinions about possible changes to the program.

The five board members discussed several potential changes, including adjusting the 3.5% interest rate, extending the 10-year loan terms, allowing additional uses of loan funds and permitting more than one loan a year by eligible borrowers.

But the group instead voted to approve two changes for the time being, to increase the maximum loan amount from $200,000 to $300,000 and from $4,000 per acre of water rights to $5,000 per acre of water rights.

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“It seems we have got a lot of money for loans that is not being utilized,” said board member Stuart Joy.

He said that he considered the lower demand to be one reason not to raise interest rates at this time, with another being that the loan program is meant as an incentive program to encourage conservation.

Staff said that the amount available is unusually high, due in part to early payoffs.

The board considered several other items during the meeting, including some preliminary design concepts for its new office and shop facilities. They also voted to approve expenditures of up to $15,000 for a one-year pilot program to obtain proprietary geographic information systems software and train staff in its use. The software will be used to organize, analyze and visually display information related to the district.

Water Resource Specialist Kelly James and District Superintendent Aron Balok said that the cost-effectiveness and all the possible uses of software will be determined over the course of the year.

“If this does the things that we think that it will do, then we will be on the springboard to move forward and implement a lot broader program,” Balok said. “Until we get our feet wet, I don’t know how else we can move forward.”

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.