HALIFAX -- Residents of the Greater Moncton area are being urged to conserve water after the city issued a warning of a high risk of blue-green algae bloom in the water supply.

The City of Moncton issued the advisory to residents in Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview on Wednesday, as a result of the blue-green algae risk in the Tower Road reservoir, which supplies water to the Turtle Creek reservoir.

“At this time, the water remains safe for drinking, as well as bathing, washing and cooking. We all hope to keep it this way, which is why all non-essential water-related activities should be stopped until further notice,” said Jack MacDonald, general manager of engineering and environment for the City of Moncton. “Protecting our potable water source is a community responsibility, and our collective actions can have a positive impact in this situation.”

The city says water conservation will help reduce the risk of a blue-green algae bloom, and the severity of risk if a bloom should occur.

“We do have a certain level of concern,” says Nicole Taylor, director of water and wastewater services for the City of Moncton. “The reservoirs have dropped significantly in recent days, and the last couple of weeks, so that’s why we’re asking the public to try and conserve water. It may not prevent a bloom from happening, but it’s the best tool that we have at the moment.”

The city says examples of non-essential/wasteful water use include washing vehicles, watering lawns, running tap water while brushing teeth or shaving, washing only partial loads of laundry and dishes, and hosing down a driveway.

“It’s not mandatory right now, we haven’t gone to that step, but we really, really are asking the public to take this seriously and reduce their consumption consciously, so anything that is not a necessary use of water is helpful,” says Nicole Melanson, City of Moncton spokesperson.

The Moncton area reported its first major blue-green algae bloom in 2017, and has taken actions to mitigate future blooms, said the City of Moncton in a press release.

The city says weather in the region has been unusually dry this year, and reservoir levels are currently four to six weeks “ahead of schedule.”

“The water levels are very low at Tower Road,” says Taylor. “We know the temperatures are four degrees higher than they were in 2017, when we had a bloom in September, and we’re still in August.”

The Tower Road reservoir was built in 2014 to supplement the city’s water supply at Turtle Creek.

“Without a backup right now, we’d be in serious trouble. We would probably be on water rations with the way this summer has been,” says resident Peter Belliveau.

As the water level in the Tower Road reservoir drops, both the water temperature and concentration of nutrients rises, which helps the blue-green algae bloom.

More water in the reservoir means that the water will stay cooler and fewer nutrients will be available to the algae bloom.

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.