Guelph’s water supply

Guelph’s groundwater

Guelph is one of the largest Canadian cities to rely almost exclusively on groundwater for its drinking water supply.

Groundwater comes from rain and melted snow that seeps into open spaces and cracks in soil and rock. Groundwater is found almost everywhere underground but there usually isn’t enough for an entire city’s water supply. Fortunately, Guelph is located above two aquifers which provide the city with high quality water.

The aquifer is formed by limestone/dolomite bedrock formations extending across Southern Ontario between the Bruce Peninsula and Niagara Falls. These particular bedrock formations are good aquifers because they have large open spaces and cracks in some of the layers of rock. Wells drilled into this aquifer can provide sufficient water for individual houses, farms, businesses or for large municipalities like Guelph.

Most of Guelph’s water comes from a permeable zone called the “production zone”. In places, the bedrock is overlain by overburden deposits – clays, silts and sands placed by glaciers. Rain and snow filters through these formations before it reaches the bedrock. Some of these layers are aquitards—less permeable formations of clay or shale—which can act as barriers and protect deeper groundwater resources.

Municipal wells and water collection systems

Guelph has 21 operational groundwater wells and a shallow groundwater collector system called the Glen Collector System. The Glen Collector System is a series of underground perforated pipes that collect shallow groundwater from the Arkell Spring Grounds in the Township of Puslinch. Each year, between April 15 and November 15, we pump water from the Eramosa River into an engineered-block infiltration pond and trench where it soaks into the ground to replenish groundwater supplies.

The water from the wells and collector system are treated and distributed to the community. The City supplies water to homes, businesses, fire hydrants and water storage facilities including our three water towers and our underground storage reservoirs.

Guelph’s water quality is excellent. The ground acts as a natural filter, and the City uses ultraviolet technology and chlorine as additional protection to ensure the safety of the water as it travels from the source to your tap.

How can you help protect Guelph’s water supply?

Learn about Guelph’s Water Supply Master Plan

Residential well owners

Well Aware is a guide to caring for your residential well.

As a private water well owner, it is your job to be well aware — to understand the basics of well maintenance and operation, and to take the necessary actions to keep your water wells in safe running order.

Be Well Aware – Important information for residential well owners

The Well Aware booklet was compiled by Green Communities Canada, in partnership with the Ontario Ground Water Association and has been posted with permission.

For more information visit wellaware.ca

Residential well owners

Be Well Aware – Important information for residential well owners

As a private water well owner, it is your job to be well aware — to understand the basics of well maintenance and operation, and to take the necessary actions to keep your water wells in safe running order.

Well Aware is a guide to caring for your residential well.

Be Well Aware – Important information for residential well owners

The Well Aware booklet was compiled by Green Communities Canada, in partnership with the Ontario Ground Water Association and has been posted with permission.

For more information visit www.wellaware.ca

Groundwater Protection Program

Groundwater is an essential resource for the City. As such, it must be protected. The introduction of contaminants into the groundwater is a serious problem. Groundwater moves so slowly that problems may take a long time to appear and an even longer time to fix. Because of this, and because it is expensive to clean up a contaminated aquifer, it is preferable in all cases to prevent contamination from happening in the first place.

Contamination of our groundwater can occur as a result of a wide range of activities. Improper waste disposal, leaking septic tanks, former industrial sites, urban runoff, road salts and other sources can all lead to poor groundwater quality if not managed properly. Once it is contaminated, the groundwater may not be suitable for drinking water or it may require expensive treatment processes to remove the contaminants. We depend on our groundwater and therefore it is important to protect this valuable resource.

One of the first steps in groundwater protection is understanding where the groundwater comes from. The City has conducted regional groundwater studies (i.e. the Quadrant Studies) to characterize the groundwater resources within the City. We also have inventories of historical land uses within the City that have the potential to impact our groundwater and water supply wells. Studies are ongoing in 2005 with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and the Grand River Conservation Authority to develop a groundwater protection program for the City’s water supply.

The City of Guelph has in place several planning policies that support its groundwater protection program. The City has recognized the value of its water resources and has established planning policies to ensure the quantity and quality of this resource is protected. The City’s Official Plan and the Wellington County Official Plan describe policies for the protection, conservation and enhancement of water supply and water resources in the City and in the County.