New Brunswick

Riverview bars non-essential water use, warns residents may lose water

The Town of Riverview is urging its residents to conserve water after usage has climbed to unsustainable levels over recent weeks.

Town says usage has reached unsustainable levels in recent weeks

Riverview town council has passed a resolution barring non-essential use of water as the town faces climbing consumption deemed unsustainable. (CBC)

The Town of Riverview is urging its residents to conserve water after usage has climbed to unsustainable levels over recent weeks.

Town councillors passed a resolution at a special meeting Wednesday banning non-essential water use. The town's resolution says there is a danger of "many of its residents losing the use of their water." 

Violations of the resolution can result in fines between $200 and $1,070. 

Riverview Mayor Ann Seamans said in an interview Wednesday that water pressure is already down to a trickle for some homes in the town of about 20,000.

"We feel that it's a major leak somewhere, but it's not surfacing so we don't know where it is," Seamans said. She said small water leaks have been found and fixed, but the problem has persisted. 

A staff report to town council says water use has risen to about 12,000 cubic metres per day, almost double the typical 6,200 cubic metres per day and above previous summer peaks of about 10,000 cubic metres.

Riverview Mayor Ann Seamans says the town believes the issue stems from a major water main leak that's yet to be located. (Pierre Fournier/CBC)

The report says water use began climbing earlier in the spring, but "notably spiked in the past week or two." 

The town's resolution passed Wednesday bans non-essential water use, including: 

  • Watering lawns or gardens beyond what's necessary for plants to survive, which should only occur between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m., and only for one hour at a time;
  • outside recreational activities using excessive water;
  • washing things like siding, sidewalks, patios, vehicles, and parking lots; and
  • using sprinklers "for any other purpose."

The Moncton region has been experiencing a prolonged hot period, though the staff report on the town website indicates climbing water use began in the spring. 

The report speculated more residential pools and people gardening were behind the climbing water use. However, the mayor said a review found water use hasn't climbed as much in Moncton and Dieppe. 

Neither city has reported any similar issues. 

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

The three communities draw their water from the Turtle Creek reservoir system southwest of the town. The reservoirs, essentially two large lakes, are owned and operated by Moncton. 

Isabelle LeBlanc, Moncton's director of communications, said water use across the three communities is up 28 per cent so far this year compared to last year. It's up 17 per cent when just comparing use in Moncton. 

"At this point, we're not seeing any issues with our water," LeBlanc said in an interview Wednesday evening. 

She said the reservoir system is "full" and was actually slightly overflowing last week.

Cities not facing same problem

Dieppe and Moncton aren't issuing the same dire calls to halt non-essential water use, instead issuing standard summer reminders about water use bylaws. 

Seamans said Moncton staff are helping the town look for the source of the water leak. 

Riverview buys its water at a bulk rate from Moncton. Residential properties don't have water meters and are charged a flat rate, meaning the town will face a higher water bill. 

"The cost will go up, we have to pay for all of this extra water," Seamans said. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shane Magee

Reporter

Shane Magee is a Moncton-based reporter for CBC.

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