Groundwater is found beneath the surface of the Earth and exists in soil pores and in the fractures of rock formations. Groundwater sources are more commonly called aquifers; these deposits of water are fed from above ground, purified, and returned to the surface through springs, wetlands or wells.
In 2010, about 15,600 cubic decametres of groundwater were licenced for use in the Battle River watershed. Municipal and agricultural uses accounted for about 80% of total groundwater licences, with industrial, commercial, and other uses accounting for the remainder. In the same year, about 1,800 cubic decametres were licensed in the Sounding Creek watershed. Here, municipal and agricultural uses accounted for about 90% of total licences.
Although we know how much groundwater is licensed, we don’t have a clear picture of how much groundwater is actually used every year, especially when unlicensed withdrawals are taken into account. We also don’t know how much groundwater we have in the first place, or the rate at which groundwater recharge occurs, or the quality of our groundwater resources. Thus, it is difficult to gauge the sustainability of our current use and management of groundwater resources. These are significant gaps in our knowledge that should be addressed in order to ensure ongoing, sustainable access to this resource.
The Groundwater Quantity component of the Watershed Management Plan is forthcoming.