Bedrock Aquifers & Water Supply

Cartoon of aquifer components in sand clay and limestone

This research addresses groundwater supply from sedimentary bedrock aquifers in Ontario, using the City of Guelph as a field-based laboratory to investigate interdependent elements of the urban water cycle. Research investigations focus on contaminant hydrogeology in bedrock and overburden, groundwater recharge, contaminant transport, sustainable well field development, and modelling and uncertainty analysis of groundwater and soil systems.

Bedrock aquifers supply water to communities totaling more than one million people in Ontario. Many of these bedrock water-dependent communities, such as Guelph, Cambridge, Orangeville, and Fergus, are expected to grow significantly in the coming decades, resulting in the potential for increased stress to bedrock aquifers in the form of increasing water extraction and contamination threats. The City of Guelph’s field-based laboratory acts as a surrogate study area for other groundwater-based communities, both in Ontario and around the World. Research conducted at the Guelph laboratory helps to advance the utilization of bedrock aquifers, secure these aquifers as reliable water supply sources for future decades, and focuses and refines future research and decision-making by municipalities.

This research is a collaboration between three Ontario universities with expertise in water resources engineering (Guelph, Waterloo and McMaster), and includes strong cross-disciplinary work with universities in Quebec, Germany and the United States.

Research Themes:

  1. Bedrock Contaminant Hydrogeology
  2. Overburden (Quaternary Deposits) Contaminant Hydrogeology
  3. Groundwater Recharge
  4. Well Field Development in a Sustainable Hydrologic Context
  5. Modelling and Uncertainty Analysis of Groundwater Systems and Contaminant Transport

Lead Principal Investigator:

Dr. Beth L. Parker (Guelph)

Co- Principal Investigators:

Dr. Ramon Aravena (Waterloo)
Dr. Anthony Endres (Waterloo)
Dr. Emanuelle Arnaud (Guelph)
Dr. Bahram Gharabaghi (Guelph)
Dr. Aaron Berg (Guelph)
Dr. Jana Levison (Guelph)
Dr. Tadeusz Gorecki (Waterloo)
Dr. Andrea Bradford (Guelph)
Dr. Edward McBean (Guelph)
Dr. John Cherry (Guelph)
Dr. Gary Parkin (Guelph)
Dr. Sarah Dickson (McMaster)
Dr. James Smith (McMaster)

Research is funded as part of the Sustainable Bedrock Water Supplies for Ontario Communities Ontario Research Fund (ORF)-RE Round 3

Annual Meetings

ORF Annual Meeting Agenda 2011

ORF Annual Meeting Agenda 2012

ORF Annual Meeting Agenda 2013

For information or abstracts relating to specific presentations, please contact

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