Ground Water Canada

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Who defines a best management practice in groundwater management?

Message from the president of OGWA

May 21, 2024  By Dwayne Graff, President

Best management practices, or BMPs as most people call them, seem to be everywhere. But since everyone is using the phrase, what does it really mean? Who is the all-knowledgeable person who says which practice is the “best?” And when does the “best practice” become obsolete?

In our industry, when we’re in the field working with landowners and businesses, our members are constantly looking at how we do our business. We always have to look at improving. If we don’t improve, or innovate, then we do a disservice to our clients. Our work cannot be based on any book, or theory, but on what we see on the ground that works and what doesn’t work, and how we can make it better. Only through on-the-ground field work can we get the confidence to adopt new practices that are based on fact, and not opinion. If we are not using the best science, and the best methodologies, then people may suffer.

The science of BMPs for groundwater management and conservation is an important topic worldwide. Here in Ontario, OGWA is part of an important project led by the University of Guelph to identify BMPs for water wells in Ontario. The group has some of the leading experts in groundwater management, science, agriculture, and traditional knowledge at the table to update work started 20 years ago to better protect our groundwater.


The project, when completed, is meant to fill the knowledge gap that seems to exist with groundwater. OGWA and other members of the group have significant expertise in managing groundwater. However, that knowledge is not always given to the people on the ground who use groundwater. The cost of not knowing can be devastating. The intent of this project is to help these groups with the best information we can provide.

We are fortunate to have an abundance of groundwater in Ontario. More than three million people, numerous rural industries, and agriculture, rely on groundwater. But as we’ve seen elsewhere in Canada, this could change almost overnight. 

OGWA members, with our experience in groundwater management, appreciate the opportunity to be part of this respected group that will help produce the knowledge that everyone in Ontario will need to ensure that Ontario does not suffer the fate of others.

And to answer the question of who decides what is “best?” No one. No practice is “best” forever. People, partnerships, technology, the market, etc. all play a role in deciding how work should be done on the ground to the best of everyone’s abilities and knowledge. That is the real measure of a BMP.

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