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1. What are possible ways to impact groundwater?
There are many ways that we impact groundwater including using the groundwater (quantity) and adding contaminants (quality). Potential land use contaminants include septage discharge, lawn and garden chemicals, road salting, leaks and spills from fuel storage and handling among others.

For further information about potential groundwater contamination, please see: Environment Canada website
2. How do we go about protecting groundwater?
It is likely that groundwater protection measures will include both regulatory and non-regulatory tools. Regulatory tools could include such things as restrictions on use of chemicals such as garden chemicals and limited transportation of dangerous goods along routes near existing wells. Non-regulatory tools may include public education and decommissioning of unused deep well sites.
3. What is an Aquifer?
"Although groundwater exists everywhere under the ground, some parts of the saturated zone contain more water than others. An aquifer is an underground formation of permeable rockor loose material which can produce useful quantities of water when tapped by a well. Aquifers come in all sizes and their origin and composition is varied. They may be small, only a few hectares in area, or very large, underlying thousands of square kilometres of the earth's surface. They may be only a few metres thick, or they may measure hundreds of metres from top to bottom." Environment Canada)

There are generally two types of aquifers: confined and unconfined. A confined aquifer is separated from the surface by an impermeable layer. The result is that a confined aquifer is less vulnerable to contamination than an unconfined aquifer, but water recharge into these aquifers tends to be much slower. An unconfined aquifer has interactions with the surface which generally results in regular recharge, but makes this water source more vulnerable to contamination.

For further information on groundwater please see: Environment Canada website
4. What aquifer does this GPP refer to?
The District of Invermere currently draws water from an aquifer located in the Athalmer area referred to as the Athalmer Aquifer. The Athalmer Aquifer is a deeper, semi-confined alluvial sand and gravel aquifer. The District tapped into this aquifer with one municipal well in 2006 and the result is a high-yield municipal well. The District must prepare a GPP to protect against possible contamination of this aquifer as required by the operating permit for the well.

5. How does a GPP apply to an aquifer?
A GPP is a management tool and only applies to the portion of an aquifer that a community intends to manage through land use planning and other protection measures. Typically, the GPP only applies to the area of the aquifer that the community intends to draw water from and/or directly impacts through activities above the surface.
6. Where are we in the process to protect it?
Through this GPP, we are at the beginning of a comprehensive risk assessment and mitigation strategy development. While community members and agencies have been working to protect groundwater in a variety of ways over the years, this is the first time we will have a clear understanding of the aquifers' coverage, volume and the possible surface risks.

Once we have the GPP in place, we will be able to monitor the water quantity and quality to ensure protection measures are sufficient.

 

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