Groundwater Introduction

Groundwater in our province exists either as a comparatively younger, non-saline source - designated as any water possessing a mineralization less than 4,000 mg/L total dissolved solids (TDS) - or as comparatively older, and deeper saline source (TDS greater than 4,000 mg/L). The age of groundwater beneath the province has been assessed at a few thousand years to up to 1,000,000 plus years (in the water-bearing formation less than 300 m below the surface). The volumes of groundwater associated with each major water-bearing formation are immense compared to current usage and allocation to begin with. The use of groundwater in the province is not equally distributed between sectors. Although the majority is accessed to support oil and gas activities, which primarily occurs in the northern half of the province, agriculutral and municipal uses dominate in the southern basins. 

Water is the world’s lifeblood; a resource required by all living things. In Alberta, many industries, communities and rural residents rely on this resource to sustain life and the economic activities on the landscape that make Alberta one of the most prosperous provinces.

The volumes of groundwater associated with each major water-bearing formation are immense when compared (or in comparison) to the current volumes of usage and allocation. The following modules are meant to provide some background on the nature of groundwater. It is also meant to stimulate additional thought regarding strategic use and management of this precious resource to ensure sustainable growth and continued opportunities for future generations.


Section 1: Introduction

Module 1: What is groundwater?

Module 2: What is an aquifer?

Module 3: How does groundwater move?

Module 4: What is the role of groundwater in the hydrological cycle?

Module 5: How does groundwater interact with the surface environment?