Ground Water Canada

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Summer 2021 saw drop in groundwater levels in B.C.’s Columbia Basin


September 20, 2021
By Ground Water Canada

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Columbia Basin, B.C. – Groundwater data collected from some of the aquifers being monitored as part of Living Lakes Canada’s Columbia Basin Groundwater Monitoring Program showed a decrease in water levels when comparing this July to last July.

In particular, water levels in two aquifers in the East Kootenay, one in Windermere and one in Cranbrook, were lower by approximately 0.75 metres and 0.80 metres respectively. A third aquifer located in Shoreacres near Playmor Junction in the West Kootenay was lower by approximately one metre.

“Groundwater is used in the Columbia Basin for domestic, agricultural, industrial, and commercial purposes, and helps maintain water levels and water quality in wetlands, streams, rivers, and lakes. Groundwater is vital for maintaining healthy ecosystems, including habitat for fish, waterfowl, and wildlife,” said Carol Luttmer, Groundwater Monitoring Program Manager for LLC. “Monitoring groundwater levels is key to understanding what is happening underground. Increasing our knowledge about groundwater systems informs sustainable water management to ensure the needs of people and nature can be met.”

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Careful management and allocation of groundwater is becoming increasingly important as populations continue to grow, demand increases, and climate change impacts intensify. The Groundwater Monitoring Program works with well owners (ranging from private landowners to local government to First Nations) who volunteer their wells for monitoring.

Currently, the program is monitoring 22 Volunteer Observation Wells across the Columbia Basin and recently published a memo with graphs of water levels for aquifers with more than one year of data. To determine if changes in aquifer water levels are associated with drought or other pressures, or if they are within natural variations from year to year, long-term monitoring and analyses are needed.

In early September, the International Association of Hydrogeologists released the Sao-Paulo-Brussels Groundwater Declaration (of which Living Lakes Canada is a signatory), inspiring actions needed to further the understanding, the careful use and protection of groundwater and aquifers throughout the world. The declaration states that because groundwater is a critical resource but hidden from view, there must be an effort by governments, hydrogeologists, NGOs, and all of society to “make the invisible visible.”

The LLC Groundwater Monitoring Program complements the Provincial Groundwater Observation Well Network, which has a limited number of observation wells in the Basin. To learn more about the program, visit https://livinglakescanada.ca/project/columbia-basin-groundwatermonitoring-program/