How Important Is Groundwater To Albertans?

Ground Water in CanadaGroundwater is an important resource to many residents of Canada. In Prince Edward Island, groundwater provides 100% of the water supply to its residents. According to Statistics Canada, about 30% of the Canadian population (or roughly 10.4 million people) rely on groundwater as a source of water supply.

In Alberta, the percentage of the population reliant on groundwater as a supply source is about 23%. Based on 2010 population estimates, this equates to roughly 840,000 residents.

Although this percentage may seem small, the reliance on groundwater in certain locations like areas where there is restrictions on new licences for surface water or groundwater under the direct influence of surface water (South Saskatchewan River Basin), is increasing. As a result, the importance of groundwater in sustaining local populations and businesses is becoming apparent.

In water-short areas of the province (southern Alberta) water supplies are currently managed through a series of storage reservoirs and management structures. The storage shortfall of 2001 and the need to re-allocate licensed volumes of water provides an example of how precarious the situation can become in the face of extended drought or water deficit conditions.

As such, groundwater exists as a potentially important source of water supplies in time of need, and can be used to offset diminished supplies of surface water. The concept of “drought-proofing” communities in advance of potential future mega-droughts (as indicated by palaeoclimate reconstructions using proxies such as tree-rings and lake sediments) is gaining popularity among water managers responsible for serving water-short areas of the province.

Read more about the role and use of groundwater (Environment Canada)


Section 2: Alberta's Water Balance and Inventory

Module 1: What do we know about groundwater today?
Module 2: How important is groundwater to Albertans?
Module 3: How much groundwater is there?
Module 4: Where's the "good" water?
Module 5: What about the saline water?