Groundwater is important to health, economy and ecosystems in Canada. It provides drinking water to about one third of all Canadians and up to 80% of the rural population. In the face of growing pressure on water resources due to urbanization, economic development and growing energy demand, Canada needs a consistent and coordinated approach to groundwater management.
The Geological Survey of Canada through the Groundwater Geosciences Program assesses Canada’s key aquifer systems and makes the data available through a national groundwater portal (the Groundwater Information Network (GIN)) that links several databases to provide baseline information useful to stakeholders (government, private sector, industry, water management agencies, and well owners) in their decision-making process.
The aquifer assessment and characterization activities are a combination of geological mapping, regional hydrogeological assessments, and groundwater modeling that form an inventory of the main regional aquifers of Canada. They are intended to advance groundwater management across Canada through a list of 30 key regional-scale aquifers based on the hydrogeological regions of Canada which combine factors of geology, climate, precipitation, and physiography. Also, with the help of the Canada Center for Remote Sensing (CCRS), a wide range of satellite sensors are used to retrieve hydrology-related parameters of vegetation and soil at different scales (Landsat TM, AVHRR, MODIS, VEGETATION, ENVISAT-ASAR and MERIS, RADARSAT-1 and -2). Groundwater variations are also quantified using in situ and satellite gravity measurements (GRACE).
The data from the assessment activities are made available through the GIN. The GIN aims to improve knowledge of groundwater systems and enhance groundwater management through increased access to groundwater information. It connects databases from NRCan’s key aquifer information and several provinces and territories.
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