New Brunswick

Moncton mayor wants glyphosate spraying stopped near Turtle Creek

Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold wants the province to stop glyphosate spraying near the Turtle Creek reservoir.

Turtle Creek reservoir supplies water to 100,000 residents in Greater Moncton area

The Turtle Creek reservoir provides drinking water to 100,000 residents in the Greater Moncton area. (Radio Canada)

Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold wants the province to stop spraying the controversial herbicide glyphosate near the Turtle Creek reservoir.

J. D. Irving plans to apply the herbicide to some areas in the Turtle Creek watershed, which provides drinking water to 100,000 residents.

Arnold sent a letter to the province outlining her concerns.

In her letter to the province, Arnold states that current regulations restricts aerial herbicide application within 3.2 kilometres from the point of extraction of any municipal surface water drinking supply.

"Although they appear to be located within the minimum setback distances, we have been informed that aerial herbicide application will be completed on several properties located within the Turtle Creek designated watershed boundary this summer," Arnold wrote. 

Arnold said in an interview she's concerned because water is such a precious resource.

"I think it's part of a larger conversation that we all have to have about chemicals and our water. It's so important that we protect our watershed."

Riverview Mayor Ann Seamans said she was just made aware of the situation by Arnold. 

"Obviously it is a great concern for Riverview to keep the water safe and we will do everything to support the city of Moncton to make sure that that happens," she said. 

Province says it's 'safe and responsible'

Glyphosate was listed as "probably carcinogenic to humans" by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization, in 2015. 

However, Health Canada said in April that glyphosate continues to be an important herbicide in Canadian agriculture. The agency said the potential risks to human health and the environment from pesticides containing glyphosate are acceptable, if used as directed in updated labels.

The New Brunswick Department of the Environment said herbicide application is regulated by both the federal and provincial governments and they work in partnership to ensure "safe and responsible application".

In a written statement to CBC, spokesperson Marc-Andre Chiasson said, "The City of Moncton samples the watershed during the herbicide spray and analyses for glyphosate. To date, the city has not presented any data to the Department indicating the presence of pesticides in these samples."

Mayor Dawn Arnold says she wants the spraying to stop. (CBC)

Chiasson went on to say the department was satisfied that glyphosate products could be used safely "when used according to the label directions as approved by Health Canada."  

"We understand that there are some concerns about the safety of this product, but the Government of New Brunswick continues to rely on the expert evaluation and decisions from Health Canada to make decisions based on facts and scientific data," Chiasson said in the statement. 

Arnold confirmed she received a response from Environment Minister Serge Rouselle, but said "he was very much embracing what the federal government had told him as far as the safety concerns for the glyphosate."

Arnold said she felt more discussion is needed.

"We're going to be meeting with the other mayors, perhaps even the regional service commission because this is a larger conversation that needs to take place," she said.

J.D.I. spokesperson Mary Keith says the company maintains a 3.2 kilometre distance from any drinking water inlets. 

"The city does pre- and post-water testing and a representative from the city is present during the application of the glyphosate," said Keith in a written statement.


Kate Letterick is a reporter with CBC New Brunswick.