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Articles - Ground Water

What goes down, must come up

Illustration - Groundwater: Nature's Hidden Treasure Groundwater is an essential and vital resource for about a quarter of all Canadians. It is their sole source of water for drinking and washing, for farming and manufacturing, indeed, for all their daily water needs. Yet for the majority of Canadians  those who do not depend on it  groundwater is a hidden resource whose value is not well understood or appreciated.

Our image of Canada is of a land of sparkling lakes, rivers and glaciers. Groundwater, which exists everywhere under the surface of the land, is not part of this picture. Not surprisingly, therefore, concerns of Canadians about water quality focus primarily on surface waters  our lakes and rivers. The less visible, but equally important, groundwater resources have received less public attention, except in regions of Canada where people depend on them.

Groundwater needs protection

In recent years, however, a number of events affecting groundwater quality have contributed to a heightened public awareness and concern about the importance and vulnerability of the resource. Media reports about the contamination of wells from leaking gasoline storage tanks or dry cleaning solvents, and about the effects on groundwater of chemical leakage from landfill or industrial waste disposal sites have raised public concerns about groundwater quality. Early in 1990, chemical seepage, caused by the tire fire at Hagersville, Ontario, threatened to pollute groundwater supplies in the region. Newspaper reports alerted area residents and helped focus attention on the problem of groundwater pollution.

Even where we might not use it directly as drinking water supply, we must still protect groundwater, since it will carry contaminants and pollutants from the land into the lakes and rivers from which other people get a large percentage of their freshwater supply.





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