Watching the Creek flow!
Turtle Creek meanders along a valley through the hills of the Albert County as it makes it way to the Petitcodiac River. Fed by the small streams from the surrounding hillsides, it slowly winds its way through some picturesque back country. Turtle Creek is not a raging river, it's not even a raging creek, but it is a vital and major source of water for the people of Greater Moncton.
Water is an essential need for all of us. We need water to drink, we need it to bathe, we need it to clean our food and wash the clothes. One of the attributes of living in Moncton is that we have continuous access to water but even more, is that water is a good as it gets.
Over the years, Moncton has invested a considerable amount of money in assuring the water capacity to serve this area is there whenever we turn on those taps. Turtle Creek is a surface water supply located southwest of Moncton. Initially dammed some 50 years ago, the resultant Turtle Creek reservoir has the capacity to serve the growing tri-community area.
On average, in 2011 this reservoir supplied 17.88 cubic metres of treated water, an average of 49,000 cubic metres per day (10.8 million imperial gallons) to the tri-communities, that's a lot of water. Treated is a key part of that statement, as the Moncton Water Treatment Plant, which opened in 1999, is a state of the art facility that consistently exceeds the Canadian water standards for drinking water. This plant is capable of delivering a peak capacity of 113,670 cubic metres (25 million imperial gallons).
But while the plant can deliver that volume of water to a growing city, it needs the actual water to process.
The Turtle Creek Reservoir is a designated watershed and is protected under the N.B. Clean Water Act. The 17,000 hectares (42,500 acres or 170 km2) watershed is a vast area in Albert County with the creek itself running through a natural valley into the reservoir. Many smaller streams feed into the Creek adding to its flow and capacity.
The current reservoir has the capacity to serve this growing community for a few years yet. But looking to the future, the City of Moncton, aided by the Federal and Provincial governments, is spending $43 million to build an entirely new dam about 5 km upstream in order to create an entirely new reservoir.
Some 36,000 truckloads of earth is being moved to build this new dam. That's a lot of earth but it is a very big job, which is why it will be late 2013 by the time it's finished. When the new reservoir fills, it will be about the same size as the current one, in short, we'll be doubling the storage volume. That in turn should cover Moncton's growth for another 50 years as we will have the capacity to comfortably serve 175,000 people or more.
Over the next five to ten years, the next phase will see an underground pipeline constructed that will send the water directly from the new reservoir to the water treatment facility. Operating separately, it will allow for any needed shut down and maintenance servicing of the older reservoir and dam.
So whether one is looking at Moncton from a business perspective or a living perspective, not only planning but actual construction is happening to ensure that capacity is available for new businesses to establish and for the population to continue growing.
Driving out past the current reservoir area, seeing it in the midst of a large protected area, it simply looks like an ideal cottage and recreation area. But while it's a beautiful spot in the quiet of the countryside, disrupted only by those 36,000 truckloads, Turtle Creek is a key part of Moncton's future.