Over 150,000 Saskatchewan residents rely on well water for drinking and this reliance grows as towns and cities expand. The mining, oil and gas industries use groundwater in extraction processes when surface water is not readily available, and dispose of the wastewater deep underground. However, little is known about how this waste interacts with underground aquifers.
"Groundwater is a resource that is out of sight and often out of mind - presenting challenges for sustainable management," said Peach, "Questions like how much groundwater is available for domestic, municipal and industrial use are vital for decision makers to be able to answer with confidence. Coordination and integration of groundwater research and data resources will both foster and help Saskatchewan's economic development to proceed sustainably."
Specific recommendations in the report include auditing and coordinating the currently fragmented groundwater science base, developing new research and assessment guidelines to ensure sustainable development practices, and creating training opportunities to meet the growing need for expertise in groundwater management. The first step involves setting up a coordinating committee to implement the recommendations.
"The knowledge amassed over the last few decades and the high level of expertise here means Saskatchewan is well positioned to proceed with a comprehensive groundwater research strategy," said Howard Wheater, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Water Security and director of GIWS. "Groundwater is a strategic resource and coordinated knowledge of the underground geology will help us understand, manage and protect it."
The report is available for download at www.usask.ca/water
For more information:
Global Institute for Water Security