What is groundwater?
A well draws groundwater from an aquifer
(R.J.W. Turner, GSC 2006-154)
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Water from rain, melting snow, streams, and lakes infiltrates into the earth. The Okanagan Basin's soil and rock are giant sponges full of tiny pores and cracks. Below the water table, these open spaces are filled with groundwater. A well can extract this groundwater. Any rock or sediment that yields useful amounts of groundwater is called an aquifer.
Groundwater is part of the water cycle and is connected to surface water. Most groundwater flows into streams and lakes. Stream water can soak into the ground, feeding groundwater below and even causing the stream to disappear.
Groundwater feeds streams and lakes
Streams flow throughout the summer, even when it hasn't rained for weeks. This is because water stored as groundwater slowly leaks into streams. But beware! Wells that are overpumped can intercept this groundwater and cause nearby streams to dry up.
Important groundwater aquifers lie below many parts of the Okanagan Valley.
(R.J.W. Turner, GSC 2006-155)
Vital but vulnerable
We live above our groundwater aquifers. Take care! Contamination from the surface can leak down into aquifers below, damaging their quality for decades.