Late last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal Clean Water Act applies to pollution of groundwater that flows to nearby surface waters so long as it is equivalent to direct discharge, strengthening the need for sophisticated groundwater science to help inform decisions on regulating water pollution.
“Computer models coupled with direct observations of water flow, pollution levels, and geology can predict how chemicals are likely to flow and interact with the chemistry of surrounding rocks. But ‘there are huge uncertainties to this,’ says Thomas Harter, who studies groundwater pollution from California farms. ‘It’s not unlike trying to predict the weather.’ (During oral argument of the case in November 2019, however, Justice Stephen Breyer remarked that briefs laying out the science of tracking groundwater pollution had impressed him. ‘The scientists really convinced me they’re geniuses and they can trace all kinds of things,’ he said)”.
To learn more about the Supreme Court ruling, read the full article at ScienceMag.org.
In association with UN World Water Day on March 22, we bring you positive news on our G³⁶⁰ Institute 2019 projects, involving local and international activities focused on groundwater resource protection and remediation. Our multi-disciplinary field-focused efforts in collaboration with site owners, groundwater technology, service companies, and government sponsors truly set us apart. We appreciate everyone’s contributions, from funding to on-the-ground efforts using expert knowledge to collect novel datasets and their interpretations. The current situation with COVID-19 and social distancing is redirecting our early spring field plans toward data analysis and writing theses and papers, however we remain productive with our 2020 research activities.
The G³⁶⁰ Institute for Groundwater Research is proud to share our 2020 newsletter! Click here to learn about our newest team members, our outreach activities, awards, graduations, publications and our many projects and successes over the past year.
March 8th-14th, 2020 marks National Groundwater Awareness Week. Here at G³⁶⁰ we are excited to share 5 of our favourite groundwater facts relevant to Guelph, Canada, and the world at large.
Did You Know?
- Groundwater represents 99% of all unfrozen fresh water in the world. It provides almost half of the world’s population with domestic water, and is the source of almost half of the water used for irrigation worldwide.
- Seven countries in the world (China, India, Iran, Mexico, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United States) account for 74% of global groundwater withdrawals, with India accounting for one fourth of the global groundwater use.
- Almost nine million Canadians depend on groundwater for domestic use, which represents over 30% of the population. In some provinces, such as those in the Maritimes, the domestic use of groundwater is much higher. For example, the provinces of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are 64% and 100% reliant, respectively, on groundwater as a source of water for domestic use.
- More than 80% of the people living in the Grand River watershed rely on groundwater as a source of clean, safe drinking water.
- Guelph is one of the largest Canadian cities to rely almost exclusively on groundwater for its drinking water supply. The average daily water demand in Guelph in 2019 was 47,015 cubic meters (~47 million liters). That is about 19 Olympic-size swimming pools!
To learn more about Groundwater Awareness Week and how you can get involved, visit the NGWA Groundwater Awareness Week website.
Learn more about the facts you read today at their sources below!
 Groundwater Solutions Initiative for Policy and Practice, 2019
 When Wells Run Dry, Taylor, 2014
 The Canadian Encyclopedia: Groundwater, 2015
 Grand River Conservation Authority
 City of Guelph Water Services 2019 Annual and Summary Report
Dr. Beth Parker was recently featured in Ground Water Canada Magazine after being interviewed on her vision for the on-campus Bedrock Aquifer Field Facility (BAFF). Funding was approved earlier this year, and the new, research-focused, educational facility will highlight groundwater and serve as a hub for the public and professionals alike.
Read the full Q-and-A with Dr. Parker on G³⁶⁰ and the BAFF here: https://www.groundwatercanada.com/q-and-a-with-beth-parker/
The College of Engineering and Physical Sciences (CEPS) at the University of Guelph recently featured G³⁶⁰ groundwater remediation research headed by Dr. Beth Parker, including team members Dr. Kari Dunfield and Dr. Philip Wanner. The article highlights how new multi-disciplinary methods provide seasonal data that can help protect groundwater using monitored natural attenuation (MNA). With MNA, a range of physical, chemical and biological processes can be used to naturally reduce (attenuate) contaminants, as demonstrated at a historic manufacturing facility in southwestern Ontario.
Read the full article on the CEPS website here and check out the CEPS Twitter feed to add to discussion on this topic.
See the 2019 journal article that inspired this highlight:
Wanner P, Aravena R, Fernandes J, BenIsrael M, Haack EA, Tsao DT, Dunfield KE, Parker BL. Assessing toluene biodegradation under temporally varying redox conditions in a fractured bedrock aquifer using stable isotope methods. Water Res. 2019 Nov 15. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2019.114986.