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Canadian groundwater mapping taking too long

The Canadian Press reports that, “The federal government is taking too long to map Canada’s stores of groundwater and key information won’t be available for another two decades, says a newly released document.”The briefing note prepared for Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt says, “The slow-going hinders Ottawa’s ability to make big decisions about the country’s water.”

The briefing note also says, “At the present rate, it will take another 22 years to complete the inventory of the 30 key regional aquifers to the point that the information will be adequate to support decision-making. Given the multiple inter-provincial and Canada-U.S. water issues expected, that rate of progress is too slow to effectively support federal policy development.”

It continues, “We do not know enough about geological aquifers that contain our groundwater resources to ensure sufficient water will be available to sustain our people, industry and our natural capital tomorrow and in the future.”

It also says, “Without a basic understanding of the aquifer dimensions and dynamics …it is not possible to manage and protect these resources, and the activities that depend on them.”

The article reports that, “The ministerial briefing note, initially marked ‘Secret,’ was obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.”

“A few years ago, Natural Resources Canada set out to assess 30 of the country’s ‘priority’ aquifers. So far, 12 have been mapped. Much of the work is being done in areas near the U.S. border. Canada shares aquifers with the United States, which has been aggressively mapping its groundwater reserves for more than a decade.”

“While the U.S. has been busily gathering data on its aquifers, Canada has fallen behind, said the head of Natural Resources’ groundwater mapping program (Dr. Alfonso Rivera, who is also the Geological Survey of Canada’s chief hydrogeologist).”

Dr. Rivera says, “We are in a relatively bad position vis-a-vis our neighbours on the south because our knowledge is very poor when it comes to groundwater. They do have much better knowledge than we do on their side. And we want to be very well positioned in potential discussions in the future whenever it comes to climate change and whether we will have more or less water.”

“Rivera expects to shave some time off the 22-year estimate. He figures the work can be done in 15 years or so. Until then, groundwater data will remain sketchy. Until then, groundwater data will remain sketchy.”

The full article is at