New Brunswick

Moncton bylaw would allow staff to impose more water-use restrictions

Moncton is preparing to give city staff the power to impose restrictions on water use without having to seek council approval. A bylaw amendment was introduced as part of an effort to stave off a blue-green algae bloom in the water supply for more than 100,000 people.

Staff say current bylaw not sufficient to address risk of blue-green algae

Moncton's Tower Road dam, one of two of the city's drinking water reservoirs in the Turtle Creek watershed. (Shane Magee/CBC News)

Moncton is preparing to give its city staff the power to impose restrictions on water use without having to seek council approval.

The bylaw amendment was introduced at a special council meeting Monday as part of an effort to stave off a blue-green algae bloom in the water supply for more than 100,000 people.

The wording of the existing development, maintenance and supply of water bylaw is focused on conserving water in the event of a shortage by restricting things like lawn watering and car washing, not measures to affect the quality of the water.

The amendment gives the city manager the power to impose restrictions anytime they think the quality, quantity or efficiency of the municipal water supply is at risk. The exact nature of the restrictions isn't included in the bylaw. 

Marc Landry, Moncton's city manager, would have the power to impose water conservation restrictions without council approval based on the proposed bylaw amendment. (Shane Magee/CBC)

The one-paragraph amendment does not require the restrictions to be approved by city council.

"It just streamlines the process if we're ever dealing with an emergency with our water supply," city manager Marc Landry told Moncton councillors Monday. 

The amendment still needs second and third reading at the Sept. 8 council meeting. 

The city says the water remains safe to use and there's enough water to supply the region until February 2021, but is urging conservation to avoid issues with algae.

Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview all get their drinking water from reservoirs in the Turtle Creek watershed. The water supply system is owned by Moncton.

A blue-green algal bloom was found in one of the new Tower Road reservoir in 2017, which serves as the backup water supply for the main Turtle Creek reservoir.

Testing has found low levels of algae so far this year in both reservoirs. 

More water is being held in the Turtle Creek reservoir to keep the water temperature there low to reduce the risk of an algae bloom, which can be toxic. 

The city issued warnings to implement voluntary water use restrictions Aug. 12 that a staff report says led to a six per cent drop in water consumption. 

A second notice Aug. 14 was followed by a 21 per cent drop in consumption. The city also turned off all but one splash pad where the water is recycled. 

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