Understanding the aquifer

Rousing the Rabble column, by Roy Ronaghan, July 15 Grand Forks Gazette.

A brief mention of the Grand Forks aquifer during a presentation at the Committee of the Whole (COTW) meeting of city council in Grand Forks last month (June 15) reminded me that my knowledge of the aquifer and how it functions was lacking and I chose to become better informed.

I made a list of questions and started a search for answers. What is an aquifer and how does it function? What are the special characteristics of the Grand Forks aquifer? How large is it? What are its boundaries? How does the aquifer recharge and from what sources? What should residents know about the aquifer to enable them to do the right things to preserve and protect it?

Several studies of the aquifer have been done over the past 40 years and I selected two as sources of information: State of Understanding of the Hydrogeology of the Grand Forks Aquifer jointly published by the BC Ministry of Environment (MOE) and Simon Fraser University (SFU) published in 2010, and The City of Grand Forks Well and Aquifer Protection Plan prepared by Piteau Associates Engineering Limited published in 2013. Both reports are long and detailed but enlightening.

I can now add the following to my information bank:

• The MOE classifies the Grand Forks aquifer as an “unconfined sand and gravel aquifer.” The terms “basin fill” or “valley-fill” may also be used to describe it.

• The Grand Forks aquifer has been identified as one of the most important in British Columbia by the MOE. It is an “IA” aquifer, a “heavily developed, highly vulnerable to contamination aquifer.”

• The aquifer extends from the base of Hardy Mountain on the west to the Kettle River oxbows on the east, a distance of approximately 15 kilometres. It is four kilometres wide at a point running through the city at Second Street.

• 95 per cent of the aquifer is located in British Columbia; the remaining five per cent is located in the State of Washington.

• Water flows from west to east in the aquifer.

• The Kettle and Granby rivers are the main sources of recharge water for the aquifer. (The wetland that still exists within the city is a part of the recharge system.)

• A provincial water well database lists over 550 shallow or drilled wells, some as deep as 300 metres.

• There were 23 wells operating in the Grand Forks area supplying water to its residents in 2005. Five of the wells serve residents of the city.

• It is known that several hundred private wells throughout the area have been abandoned but not properly closed. They are of concern because they could be entry points for contamination.

• In 1997 the rural water supply systems, Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB), local health unit and interested residents formed the Grand Forks Aquifer Protection Society. The purpose of the society was to develop and implement a groundwater protection plan to safeguard water quality of the aquifer. A plan was never developed and the society was eventually disbanded.

• The aquifer has limited capacity to accommodate future growth in the area without adverse impacts.

The aquifer has been a source of potable water for valley dwellers since the gold rush days of the late 19th century and with proper care, it will meet everyone’s needs well into the future as long as there is sufficient snow and rain to keep the rivers and streams flowing.

In the event that the effects of a changing climate become so severe in the Boundary region that there is insufficient water to fully recharge the aquifer, residents will be forced to learn that brown lawns are okay in summer; that vehicles and driveways don’t need regular washing; that three-minute showers work; that less than full loads of laundry are taboo; and that hand watering a small garden works.

 

Just Posted

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Opinion: The Second Street development might be a problem – but it’s not council’s problem

Reporter Kate Saylors writes about the common misconception surrounding a BC Housing development.

What’s happening for Family Day in the Boundary

Activities in and around Grand Forks offer something for everyone.

Call a foul on cancer with the Pink Whistle Campaign

Local basketball referees are raising money for cancer research

Petition on Second Street project presented to council

Over 1,000 signatures were gathered, but staff say council can’t do much about the project.

‘Riya was a dreamer’: Mother of slain 11-year-old Ontario girl heartbroken

Her father, Roopesh Rajkumar, 41, was arrested some 130 kilometres away

Searchers return to avalanche-prone peak in Vancouver to look for snowshoer

North Shore Rescue, Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog teams and personnel will be on Mt. Seymour

Market volatility, mortgages loom over upcoming earnings of Canada’s big banks

Central bank interest hikes have padded the banks’ net interest margins

Hearings into SNC-Lavalin affair start today, but not with Wilson-Raybould

She has repeatedly cited solicitor-client privilege to refuse all comment

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

B.C. pot giant Tilray to acquire hemp food company Manitoba Harvest for up to $419 million

Tilray will pay $150 million in cash and $127.5 million in stock.

Tears, flowers at impromptu memorial for Syrian children killed in Halifax fire

The family had only lived in the Quartz Drive home for a few months

NDP candidates push for stronger climate action as Singh supports LNG Canada

Singh has tried to project unity in the party while facing internal criticism for poor fundraising and low support in the polls

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

Most Read