A major field research facility, the Bedrock Aquifer Field Facility (BAFF), has been established at the University of Guelph as part of G360. Located at 360 College Road, the BAFF, which is located on the main U of G campus on an important bedrock aquifer in the Grand River watershed, presents a unique opportunity for applied groundwater field research in a fractured bedrock environment right in our own backyard! It will be used to enhance field research and hands‐on teaching concerning the use, management and protection of groundwater resources. We have a large real-world field-based laboratory thanks to our long-term collaboration with the City of Guelph with whom we have teamed up to address the city’s groundwater challenges – the same challenges faced around the of the world.
Phase I of the BAFF, completed in 2010, included drilling of the first two companion wells and building the core and equipment storage areas. Phase II, when completed, will add additional boreholes, laboratory and research office spaces as well as classrooms for teaching professional development short courses to our experts and colleagues from the corporate world.
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The BAFF has two components: 1) a large barn-type building to house G360‘s newly acquired field research equipment including drill rigs, trailers, vehicles, various water sampling devices, workshop and storage; and 2) a network of boreholes and wells (drilled to depths between 5 and 150 m below ground surface) and instrumented with some experimental and some conventional devices. Some of these boreholes are positioned inside the building for convenient all-season uses and the others will be outside the building footprint within a few hectare area. Phase I of the BAFF, completed in 2010, included drilling of the first two companion wells and building the core and equipment storage areas. Phase II, completed in 2013, included the geophysical characterization of a buried bedrock valley previously identified under the BAFF facility, and the placement of a borehole cluster within The Arboretum. These boreholes were drilled in close proximity to one another (
Benefits of BAFF
G360 is a large, well-recognized field-based groundwater research program with well-established industry partners and strong collaborative links both nationally and internationally. The BAFF enhances this program and will attract substantial additional research funds over the longer term. The subsurface monitoring infrastructure associated with this facility will provide the most-comprehensive and multifaceted data sets concerning the underlying dynamic bedrock aquifer system. This facility capitalizes on an excellent opportunity for education, outreach, and technology transfer regarding leading edge research that is both locally and globally relevant.
The BAFF will enable the development, prototyping and field-level demonstration of important new technologies that will grow the expanding environmental sector. In short, this research infrastructure, combined with the excellence and breadth of the research team, supportive municipal, provincial and federal government agencies, and an unparalleled level of research integration, will enable the development of creative solutions to the pressing water quality challenges posed by economic development and urbanization.