Rural Water Resources Planner: Groundwater Resources in Canada

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Groundwater Resources in Canada

Groundwater Resources in Canada

Almost a third of Canada's population, approximately 10 million, including over 80% of rural Canadians, rely on groundwater sources for their drinking water. Use varies across the country, with some areas using very little groundwater to other areas that are almost totally dependent on groundwater for their supplies. Groundwater provides water for domestic use as well as for industrial use, livestock watering, irrigation and aquaculture.

A map showing the provincial groundwater usage (municipal, domestic and rural use) is available on the Environment Canada Groundwater page.

Contrary to popular belief, groundwater does not exist in underground lakes or rivers, but rather in unconsolidated sand and gravel deposits, the pore spaces between soil particles or porous deposits such as sandstones, and in the fractures of rock deposits. When the extent of the layer is large enough to produce a usable amount when tapped by a well, the deposit is called an aquifer. Aquifers can vary greatly in thickness and area and can occur at virtually any depth.

Various levels of government, universities, various organizations with legally defined responsibilities (e.g. public utilities, conservation districts/authorites, water boards) and non-governmental organizations are active in promoting sustainable development of groundwater resources and development of measures to preserve or enhance the water quality of groundwater resources.

The Groundwater Resources in Canada section identifies and provides links to Federal and Provincial Government Departments which have roles and responsibilities in the management and regulation of groundwater resources and Non-Governmental Organizations which collaborate and advocate in support of sustainable groundwater resource management:

Map: Canadian population dependent on groundwater, by drainage region, 2006 Map of Canada's Dependent Population on Groundwater
Source: Statistics Canada