Welcome to March!
I missed tis article when it came out in 2009. Ken Reid sent this to me this morning.
Jessica E. Liggett and Sonia Talwar,'Groundwater Vulnerability Assessments and Integrated Water Resource Management', Streamline Watershed Management Bulletin Vol. 13/No. 1 Fall 2009
Canada has a disproportionate share of the world’s water and, as such, many Canadians hold the mistaken belief that our renewable freshwater resources are unlimited. Also, as groundwater is “hidden” below ground, it is hard to understand the processes affecting the resource. Groundwater is vulnerable to contamination from human activities, and is very difficult to remediate once contaminated. British Columbia has over 900 developed aquifers and almost 750 000 British Columbians (about 20% of the population) rely on groundwater as their drinking water source (BC Ministry of Environment 2009). To properly manage and protect the resource, it is therefore important to determine areas where groundwater may be more vulnerable to contamination.
“Vulnerability” is the degree to which human or environmental systems are likely to experience harm due to perturbation or stress, and can be identified for a specified system, hazard, or group of hazards (Popescu et al. 2008). In hydrogeology (the study of groundwater), vulnerability assessments typically describe the susceptibility of the water table, a particular aquifer, or a water well to contaminants that can reduce the groundwater quality (e.g., nitrates, industrial chemicals, gasoline). The contaminants may originate from a natural source (e.g., rock containing arsenic) or be introduced by human activity (e.g., agriculture: fertilizers; industry: chemical storage and spills).
Groundwater vulnerability assess- ments often result in a map of areas where the resource is vulnerable to contamination from surface activities. Vulnerability assessments prioritize areas for further investigation, protection, and monitor- ing. As part of integrated water re- source management, vulnerability assessments are integrated into a program of groundwater characterization and risk analysis, with tiered approaches for assessing vulnerability, hazard potential, and risk. Vulnerability assessments are also powerful educational tools for raising public awareness of groundwater protection issues, which is an ongoing need (Nowlan 2005).
This article provides a synopsis of groundwater vulnerability to contamination with a particular focus on methods and uses of vulnerability maps, and considers the importance of groundwater vulnerability and protection in the context of integrated water resources management. Numerous communities in British Columbia have undertaken vulnerability assessments for the purpose of water resource management. This article also provides an overview of some of these studies including the Fraser Valley (Wei 1998), Langley (Golder Associates 2005), Gulf Islands (Denny et al. 2007), Oliver (Liggett et al. 2006), and Vancouver Island (Liggett and Gilchrist 2009). The British Columbia Aquifer Classification System is also briefly described.
Good stuff, eh?
"Nothing we do will unsettle the universe; everything we do affects the planet.” - Scott Russell Sanders (thanks to Christiana Z. Peppard)