Whether it's paddling, or just going for a dip, many Nova Scotians are trying to get every moment they can in and around the water before the temperatures drop.

But recent reports of issues at local lakes have some questioning the safety of the water.

Hundreds of children took to Lake Banook Friday for the Atlantic under-14 paddling championships.

But following reports of blue-green algae and an invasive species of weeds now plaguing Dartmouth lakes, residents are worried about what the future holds.

"It's important because for people who are going to come here later on, they want to see a beautiful lake, not a lake that you can't swim in or paddle in or have fun in," said Vivian MacLean.

That concern prompted a public meeting Thursday night, which was attended by dozens of people worried about water quality.

"Something has to be done about the health of the lakes in Dartmouth, and soon," said Bob Rutherford, an aquatic habitat restoration biologist. "Every lake in Dartmouth is going downhill water-quality-wise and environmentally, and there are best-management practices to deal with the problems and issues."

Rutherford says there are a lot of contributing factors and it's time to intervene.

"I know developers that have come here and they are actually shocked that the environmental regulations are as weak as they are here," he said.

And there's more to the lakes and more at stake.

"I would love to see all three levels of government come together and find a fix for the lakes in Dartmouth," said Tim Rissesco, the executive director of the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission.

Rissesco says these lakes define Dartmouth.

"We call ourselves the City of Lakes and that's for a reason," said Rissesco. "We have over 20 lakes in Dartmouth and we use every one of them for recreational purposes, whether it's people going and swimming at 6 in the morning or whether we invite the world to come paddle here On Lake Banook, the lakes are important, it's part of our identity as a community."

And it's not just about having fun. These lakes have an impact on the economy too.

"You see hundreds of people here today enjoying Lake Banook," Rissesco said. "They're all going to buy lunch here, it's very important to have the lakes. It draws people to Dartmouth and when they're in Dartmouth, they shop at our stores, they eat in our restaurants and it's also why people chose to live and work and bring their business and their families here as well."

Dartmouthians say lakes like Banook are an integral part of the community need to be healthy in order for the community to thrive. People are worried that if something doesn't change soon, the City of Lakes could become the city of lakes you can't use.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Amy Stoodley.