Improved Source Water Protection in South Wellington (NSERC South Wellington CRD)

Morwick G360 PROJECT TEAM: Dr. Beth Parker, Dr. Jana Levison, Dr. Bahram Gharabaghi, Dr. Emmanuelle Arnaud, Dr. Colby Steelman & Jackie Harman

Source water protection has become an integral component of municipal groundwater management planning since the introduction of the Clean Water Act (2006). The purpose of this legislation is to protect existing and future sources of drinking water through collaborative science-based source water protection plans that identify and mitigate potential threats to local water supplies. However, significant uncertainties in sustainable groundwater use remain and new uncertainties may arise through climate and land use changes, population growth, and socioeconomic stresses. To advance source water protection and water resource management strategies in fractured sedimentary bedrock aquifers, Drs. Parker, Levison, Gharabaghi, and Arnaud initiated a $4.5 million new research project with financial support provided by NSERC, Nestlé Waters Canada, the City of Guelph*, the Township of Puslinch,  the Town of Erin, and Paterson, Grant and Watson Ltd. This proposal was awarded in November 2018 and aims to advance source water protection through the development and validation of high-resolution groundwater characterization and monitoring infrastructure, augmented by robust scientific protocols that directly support and enhance municipal groundwater protection plans.  

Advanced characterization and monitoring techniques, specifically adapted to highly heterogeneous sediments, will be evaluated against conventionally collected data sets through systematic assimilation into existing and concurrently-advanced regional groundwater flow models across five interconnected municipalities reliant on a shared Silurian dolostone aquifer. The proposed research will adopt a multi-disciplinary approach to understand regional geologic formations, groundwater flow paths, and groundwater-surface water interactions at scales relevant to wellhead protection area delineation, land-use monitoring, and urban planning.

The results of this research will provide growing Ontario communities tasked with managing a shared groundwater resource within dynamic inter-dependent ecologic/hydrologic systems with a scientific-based toolbox to better understand their groundwater resource, thereby enabling the development of data-informed groundwater monitoring networks. These activities will support science-based groundwater management policies that ensure safe and sustainable drinking water for growing Canadian communities. Work commenced on this project in December 2018 with the drilling of three high resolution boreholes in Puslinch Township.

University of Guelph researchers at the NSERC CRD announcement celebration on June 7th, 2019. Also pictured: Lloyd Longfield (MP for Guelph), Wayne Galliher (Divisional Manager Water Services, City of Guelph), Malcolm Campbell (Vice-President (Research)).