There currently exists some significant (and several minor) data and information gaps for the indicator relating to Groundwater, and its allocation and use.
Due to the significant importance of groundwater, SEAWA is recommending a province-wide and systematic groundwater assessment and performance monitoring program be developed by both the public and private sector. Groundwater is allocated mainly for municipal, commercial and industrial purposes. These allocations are managed under the Environmental Management System (EMS). In order to evaluate the groundwater pressure throughout the basin, EMS dataset was used to calculate allocations density by industry categories.
- Check out… our SEAWA Groundwater Maps, you will learn all about the groundwater, aquifers, and bedrock throughout our watershed.
- Read more… about the SEAWA Groundwater Report – 2011
- Read more… about groundwater Education, Science and Knowledge, and Regulation and Policy.
Groundwater tends to become more mineralized with depth. In Alberta, when the concentration of total dissolved solids (TDS) exceeds 4,000 mg/l it is considered to be saline and unfit for potable or stock watering purposes. Many regulations are in place in Alberta to protect non-saline (fresh) groundwater resources (under 4,000 mg/l TDS).The majority of rural Albertans depend on groundwater for their household water supply, which they typically access through a private water well on their property. In addition, many towns and villages tap into aquifers to supply water to residents. A license is typically required for agricultural, industrial or municipal use. Approximately three per cent of water licensed in Alberta is groundwater, however, the number of licenses will continue to grow as surface water becomes less available, especially in areas such as southern Alberta where water is becoming increasingly scarce.
Ground and Source Water Protection
One of the key SEAWA initiatives is the protection of ground and source water. As such, future research, planning and indicator development will focus on:
- Alluvial Aquifers: Land use on alluvial aquifer lands overlying groundwater under the direct influence of surface water (GUDI) has the potential to affect both groundwater and surface water quality. Carefully consider land use in the context of downstream river water uses with appropriate groundwater assessments done prior to development, if any. Groundwater assessments may lead to some additional monitoring.
Groundwater Observation Well Network
The Groundwater Observation Well Network (GOWN) is an Alberta Environment owned network of groundwater monitoring wells located in various aquifers throughout the province. Most of these wells are fitted with specialized electronic equipment that continually record groundwater levels. In addition, many of these wells are pumped and sampled for water quality analysis. Historical groundwater level information can be accessed through the Alberta Water Well Information Database.
Alberta Geological Survey
The Alberta Geological Survey have a large selection of PDF maps for different areas of Alberta showing surficial and bedrock geology, drift thickness, groundwater/hydrogeology, and mineral resources. Their recent maps also include the GIS shapefiles. Read more… about groundwater in the South Saskatchewan Region.