Raising awareness around the essential role of groundwater

Guest Blog submitted by Nicole Fulcher, B.C. Groundwater Protection Officer

Groundwater is an important resource and is becoming more essential for our needs and to support ecological function. In many areas in British Columbia, it is the only freshwater source and it is heavily relied on. With climate change, there is increasing uncertainty with surface water supply, and groundwater can provide a vital resource of freshwater.

However, groundwater needs to be protected, managed, and used in a sustainable way. My career and experience in environmental sciences and working with groundwater has made the importance of groundwater protection and sustainable use very clear. I am the new Groundwater Protection Officer for the West Coast Region with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, and I have been working with groundwater in various roles since 2008.

 Prior to my current position, I was the Groundwater Program Lead with Living Lakes Canada on their Columbia Basin Community-Based Groundwater Monitoring Program.  This program aims to collect much-needed data on groundwater aquifers within the Columbia River Basin, and was the first of its kind to operate in British Columbia. The data collected helps make informed decisions on groundwater use within the Columbia Basin. It will also be used to assess how climate change is impacting groundwater levels within the area.

An important part of the program is to involve and empower the communities that use the groundwater through citizen-based science, outreach, and education.  I feel that community engagement and involvement is very important because groundwater protection relies heavily on how individuals manage and maintain their own wells and groundwater sources. Working with Living Lakes Canada on this program gave me better insight and experience working with water supply wells and communities that rely on them. It helped to inspire my growing interest in groundwater and helped me develop more skills in this area. Working with groundwater has been a rewarding and challenging field of work for me so far, and I look forward to settling into my new role.

My current position focuses on groundwater protection through compliance and applicable provincial regulations. Essentially, my goal is to protect groundwater sources by ensuring that groundwater wells are drilled, maintained, and operated in ways that protect the water that so many rely on.

To help protect and conserve groundwater resources, some things that you can do are:

  • be efficient with water use
  • keep your well properly capped and maintained
  • keep the well area free from debris and possible sources of contamination
  • ensure that your wells and pumps are installed and serviced by qualified professionals who are registered with the Province of British Columbia

Also, to help with groundwater conservation and informed management, you can register your domestic well so that it is considered in decisions made for authorizations to use groundwater in your area. If you have questions or concerns about your well or another well, there are many resources available via gov.bc.ca for groundwater well owners and users. Questions, concerns, and other inquiries can be directed toward FrontCounter BC at 1-877-855-3222 or to groundwater@gov.bc.ca.

Nicole Fulcher is the West Coast Region Groundwater Protection Office for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

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