Ground water in Canada: Who’s responsible for what?
March 6, 2020 By Ground Water Canada
Ground water knows no boundaries, but in Canada ground water is governed largely by the provinces with a few exceptions and in co-ordination with a network of federal agencies. Here is an overview of federal and provincial responsibilities and a list of provincial associations and contact information.
Environment Canada is the lead federal department on water (including ground water), with the mandate to preserve and enhance the quality of the natural environment, including water. National Resources Canada is responsible for implementation of the federal government’s commitments to understanding the physical components of ground water systems, namely, ground water quantity and characterization, together with the assessment of ambient ground water quality.
Other federal agencies that are involved in ground water-related issues include:
- Health Canada
- Department of Indian and Northern Affairs with respect to ground water issues beneath First Nations land
- Public Works on site development and contamination issues
- Transport Canada on infrastructure development
- Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC and the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration, PFRA) has established a national presence with primary responsibilities on issues related to irrigation and farm water supply but has assumed a role in ground water mapping, ground water quality, well maintenance and abandonment, and funding infrastructure development as well.
The regulation of ground water supply and protection falls, for the most part, under provincial jurisdiction. The provincial governments are responsible to provide the overall strategy, applicable laws and regulations, technical studies, support, funding, and public education required to manage ground water.
Within the provinces, ground water is largely managed by the provincial Ministries of Environment or their equivalents. These agencies work with various federal agencies, provincial health agencies on drinking water quality and septic systems; provincial agriculture agencies on water supply for irrigation and water quality issues; provincial municipal affairs agencies on subdivision approvals; provincial agencies related to mines and natural resources on mapping, exploration and development, and provincial transportation and public works agencies on infrastructure.
The provincial ground water agencies also work with local governments (including municipalities, conservation districts and watershed and aquifer management boards) on issues related to ground water supply and protection, together with academic institutions, ground water associations, consultants, First Nations, private citizens and industry.
In the Yukon, ground water management is undertaken by Environment Yukon’s Water Resources Branch. Similar responsibilities for ground water management have not been established in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
Source: Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment Review and Assessment of Canadian Groundwater Resources, Management, Current Research Mechanisms and Priorities, 2010
CANADIAN NATIONAL GROUND WATER ASSOCIATION
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ALBERTA WATER WELL DRILLING ASSOCIATION
PO Box 130, Lougheed, AB, T0V 2V0, Canada
BRITISH COLUMBIA GROUND WATER ASSOCIATION
1708 – 197A St., Langley, BC, V2Z 1K2, Canada
BRITISH COLUMBIA WATER & WASTE ASSOCIATION
620-1090 W. Pender St., Vancouver, BC, V6E 2N7, Canada
CANADIAN GEOEXCHANGE COALITION
1030 rue Cherrier, Ste. 304, Montreal, QC, H2J 3E5, Canada
CANADIAN WATER SYSTEMS COUNCIL
295 The West Mall, Ste. 504, Toronto, ON, M9C 4Z4, Canada
L’ASSOCIATION DES ENTREPRENEURS EN FORAGE DU QUEBEC (AEFQ)
2750 chemin Ste-Foy, Quebec City, QC, G1V 1V6, Canada
MANITOBA WATER WELL ASSOCIATION
1082 Main St., Winnipeg, MB, R2W 5J3, Canada
NATIONAL GROUND WATER ASSOCIATION
601 Dempsey Rd., Westerville, OH, 43081, USA
NEW BRUNSWICK GROUND WATER ASSOCIATION INC.
1278 Route 260, St-Martin de Restigouche, NB, E8A 2M8, Canada
NOVA SCOTIA GROUND WATER ASSOCIATION/ ATLANTIC WATER WELL ASSOCIATION
119 Baker’s Point Rd., East Jeddore, NS, B0J 1W0, Canada
ONTARIO GROUND WATER ASSOCIATION
125-750 Talbot Street East, St. Thomas, ON N5P 1E2
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND GROUND WATER ASSOCIATION
PO Box 857, RR 2, Cornwall, PE, C0A 1H0, Canada
SASKATCHEWAN GROUND WATER ASSOCIATION INC.
PO Box 9434, Saskatoon, SK, S7K 7E9, Canada
SASKATCHEWAN WATER SECURITY AGENCY
111 Fairford Street East
Moose Jaw, SK S6H 7X9
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