Moncton's drinking water system is scheduled to receive an upgrade after over $21 million of funding was announced from three levels of government on Monday.
Over the next 12 to 15 months, researchers will use technology to remove harmful toxins that blue-green algae can produce.
“Our government’s priority is to invest in strategic infrastructure projects that build vibrant and sustainable communities,” said Finance and Treasury Board Minister Ernie Steeves, speaking on behalf of Environment and Climate Change Minister Gary Crossman, who is also the minister responsible for the Regional Development Corporation.
“With these upgrades, we are protecting public health and equipping the city with the infrastructure it needs for continued population growth and economic recovery.”
In a news release from the province, it says $8.8 million of the funding will come from the federal government through the Green Infrastructure Stream of the Investing in Canada program. The provincial government is providing over $7.3 million, while the City of Moncton is contributing over $5.8 million.
Officials say the upgrades involve researching and testing new and existing water treatment processes that will remove toxins. They will then select and implement the chosen process to mitigate the increasing threat of blue-green algae.
“The City of Moncton is responsible for New Brunswick’s largest municipal potable water supply,” said Mayor Dawn Arnold. “As we saw in the summer of 2020, blue-green algae presents a real threat to our watershed and this funding will ensure we take the required steps to minimize toxins and ensure the residents of Moncton, Riverview, and Dieppe have safe, quality drinking water. By equipping Greater Moncton with the required infrastructure, we are protecting our water supply to support our region’s continued growth.”
In August 2020, a water conservation advisory was issued to Moncton area residents warning of a high risk of blue-green algae bloom in the water supply.
The Moncton area reported its first major blue-green algae bloom in 2017 in the Tower Road reservoir, which supplies water to Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview. The water has remained safe since thanks to funding and actions taken to mitigate future blooms.
“Investments in essential public infrastructure are vital to building resilient communities. Improving Moncton’s drinking water system will provide residents with safer and more reliable water services for years to come,” said Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe MP Ginette Petitpas Taylor, speaking on behalf of federal Infrastructure and Communities Minister Catherine McKenna.
“Canada’s infrastructure plan invests in thousands of projects, creates jobs, and builds cleaner, more inclusive communities.”
Blue-green algae are naturally occurring organisms found in both fresh and salt water. Under conditions such as warm water temperatures, the algae can multiply quickly and create blooms that sometimes produce toxins that can be dangerous to both humans and animals.
"These investments in our municipalities are so important to ensure that we can modernize infrastructure, adapt to the impact of climate change, and support growth by investing in long-term infrastructure priorities," said Arnold.