Algae may soon close Moncton reservoir

People are being warned to stay out of the reservoir while tests continue.

Moncton officials are keeping a close eye on one of the city's reservoirs as traces of blue-green algae are once again being found in the water.

The Irishtown Reservoir is the oldest in the city but is only used now for recreation, and has popular walking trails around it.

For the past few years, crews have been battling a problem known as algae bloom, and had to close the reservoir early last summer because of it.

"We were out on the water last week and water temperatures were about 23, 24 degrees. Once they cap at 25 then the algae will bloom and we'll close the reservoir to recreation until we see what species we're dealing with," said Heather Hawker, the forest management program co-ordinator for the city.

The city is closely monitoring the reservoir's levels because Hawker said some forms of the bacteria in the algae can be toxic.

"When you have those warming temperatures, it's just a bacteria, so it grows," Hawker said.

The city has already cautioned pet owners against letting their animals into the water.

"So it's just a precautionary measure for people to realize the algae is there and if dogs drink the water there is a chance that you know the algae can cause diarrhea to dogs and so on if it's of the toxic variety," she said.

She said it's been a good summer so far but that could soon change.

"We will have to shut it eventually, and I expect it will be shortly," Hawker said.

The city has been working with biologists at the Universite de Moncton to try to find a solution. The reservoir will be tested Friday.

Until then, people and their pets should be careful with any direct contact with the water.

The reoccurring warnings about bacteria in the reservoir are causing some Moncton citizens to reconsider their activities around the water.

Stan Barriault said he will still bring his children to the area but he'll keep them out of direct contact with the water.

"The consistencies of the warnings, they've been happening quite often, would be a reason why I'd stay away, I think I would bring [my children] them canoeing or something like that, but not to swim," he said.

Sandi Burke comes to the park several times a week, but lately she hasn't been bringing her dog.

"I think a lot of people may not come here because a lot of people just let their pets run in the water, play fetch, swim and cool off on a hot day and I think it is kind of sad," Burke said.