Ground Water – Environmental Risks in Ontario
Ground Water: Protecting Yourself by Understanding the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.
Ground water can be found beneath the earth’s surface virtually anywhere in the world which can provide essential access to fresh water in the most remote areas, making up approximately 30% of the world’s total fresh water. Even in Ontario, where glacier lakes store vast amounts of fresh water, ground water poses a significant resource for communities outside the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). These underground reservoirs of water are called aquifers. Aquifers consist of water-filled spaces (known as voids) between soil particles and rocks beneath the water table and are bounded by a layer of impermeable material such as bedrock. Ensuring this resource remains accessible and clean is important for Ontario’s communities and environment.
As a property owner, contaminants that risk impacting the ground water beneath your property are determined in the Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) and are assessed based on the likelihood of impacting your property both on-site and off-site. In addition, the property owner is responsible for ensuring that contamination in, on, or under your property is not migrating off-site impacting the neighbouring properties. For these reasons, ground water monitoring wells can be installed to monitor and measure the quality of the ground water beneath your property.
Ground water monitoring wells are developed by drilling boreholes through the soil strata into the aquifer under your property and installing continuous borehole tubing, typically white polyvinyl chloride (PVC) tubing with a perforated screen at the bottom of the well to allow for water to penetrate. The remaining voids in the borehole are then backfilled with a porous well gravel to support the well and provide a low resistance for water to flow through, followed by an impermeable seal to prevent surface water from entering the well. Ground water monitoring wells are installed during the Phase II Environmental Site Assessment to measure the depth of the ground water table and to collect ground water for water quality analysis.
Ground water is collected from the wells through a variety of methods; environmental site assessors tend to utilize the bailer or low flow methods for ground water collection as the wells are typically shallow and these methods limit draw down minimizing sediment disturbance. Once a sufficient volume of ground water has been purged to remove any disturbance from the installation operations, the ground water is collected in laboratory supplied containers and stored in a cooler on ice prior to transportation to the nearest lab. The types of analyses conducted at the lab are determined based on the risks identified on-site and off-site by the Qualified Person (QP) during the initial Phase I ESA.
Whether you are assessing your property for due diligence purposes, a property transaction, or for municipal development approval purposes, it is important to properly assess the ground water quality beneath your property through strategic ground water well placement and contaminant transport knowledge. Properly identifying the boundaries of contaminant plumes in the ground water beneath your property can lead to a simpler and more cost effective remedial solution.
Rubidium Environmental’s team of expert engineers and scientists can assist you through this process to minimize costly remedial activities by providing environmental solutions that get you back to business.