New Brunswick

Moncton-area residents urged to reduce water use because of blue-green algae risk

Residents of the Greater Moncton area are being asked to stop all non-essential water use until further notice because their water quality is at risk because of blue-green algae.

Tower Road reservoir level has dropped significantly, creating high risk of algae bloom and possible toxins

The city says water conservation will help reduce the risk of a blue-green algae bloom, and the severity, if a bloom occurs.

Residents of the Greater Moncton area are being asked to stop all non-essential water use until further notice because their water quality is at risk because of blue-green algae.

There is a "high risk" of blue-green algae bloom in the Tower Road reservoir, which supplies water to the Turtle Creek reservoir, the primary drinking water supply for Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe since 1962, the City of Moncton said in an advisory on Wednesday.

Some blue-green algae bloom, also known as cyanobacteria, can produce toxins, which can be harmful to human health.

The water remains safe for drinking, as well as bathing, washing and cooking, but that could change if the reservoir levels drop too low, said city spokesperson Nicole Melanson

"It really is every drop counts right now," she said.

The city is urging Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe residents to avoid "wasteful" water use, such as washing vehicles, watering lawns and gardens, letting the tap run while brushing teeth or shaving, washing only partial loads of laundry and dishes, and hosing down a driveway.

The conservation measures are not yet mandatory, said Melanson.

"We haven't gone that step," she said. "Right now, we're asking you really nicely." 

Dry, hot summer

An unusually dry, hot summer has caused the water level in the Tower Road reservoir to drop and the water temperature to rise, said Nicole Taylor, director of water and wastewater services for the city.

More water in the reservoir will keep the water deeper and cooler, which will reduce the concentration of nutrients that feed the algae, she said.

"It may not prevent a bloom from happening, but it's the best tool we have at the moment," said Taylor.

Deeper water should also dilute any toxins that are produced as much as possible, she added.

Blue Green algae was present in the Tower Road reservoir the past two years, but a bloom only occurred in 2017. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

The first time the city reported a blue-green algae bloom in its watershed was in 2017, also in the Tower Road reservoir, said Taylor.

This year, the reservoir levels are about four to six weeks "ahead of schedule," she said, and the water temperatures are approximately four degrees warmer than the average, currently 25 C.

Water sampling and testing are continuing.

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