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Moncton bylaw ammendment would give city manager more authority over water supply

Click to play video: 'City of Moncton seeking authority allowing council to mandate people to stop non-essential water use' City of Moncton seeking authority allowing council to mandate people to stop non-essential water use
There are concerns over a possible blue-green algae bloom in a reservoir. As Callum Smith reports, the city says it doesn’t need to make a mandatory order now, but a new by-law would mean they could if it got to that point – Aug 24, 2020

The City of Moncton is seeking further control over its water supply, giving the city’s manager authority to impose water use restrictions, if need be.

Councillors unanimously passed first reading at a special public meeting Monday to a bylaw amendment that reads:

“(If) the City Manager determines that the quality, quantity or efficiency of the municipal water supply is impaired or at risk of being impaired, (the manager) may impose any necessary restrictions to any consumer to protect the municipal water supply.”

Read more: Risk of blue-green algae, dry conditions continue water conservation concerns in Moncton area

There was no explicit explanation of what circumstances could warrant the authorization. However, the current concerns stem from the potential for blue-green algae in one of the reservoirs for Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe.

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On Aug. 12, Moncton asked people to stop all non-essential use — such as car washing, lawn watering, and washing clothes with only partially-filled loads — due to a “high risk” of a blue-green algae bloom in the Tower Road reservoir.

According to the city, water consumption has dropped about 21 per cent, the equivalent to about 12 million litres per day, since then.

City spokesperson Isabelle LeBlanc says the city already had the authority to restrict water usage in the case of a water shortage, such as a drought.

And while it’s been a dry summer, there’s enough water to last until February without any rain, she says.

But the concern bringing the by-law amendment to the forefront is about a potential blue-green algae bloom.

Read more: Moncton water delivery man caught on video helping homeless woman

“It’s not a drought situation,” LeBlanc says. “We have enough water to supply the tri-community for months. What we’re trying to do is make sure the reservoirs are full. So that does two things. One, it certainly keeps the water cool. And two, it keeps the algae quite diluted so (blue-green algae) hopefully does not become an issue.”

The city says the water remains safe for consumption until further notice.

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LeBlanc says there’s no cause for concern for a mandated order right now, but the city wants to be prepared in case the situation worsens at the reservoirs.

The bylaw amendment is expected to receive second and third (final) reading Sept. 8.

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