The Sustainable Management of Groundwater in Canada

Groundwater is vital for Canada’s health, environment and economy. Nearly a third of Canada’s population, some 10 million people, depends on groundwater for safe drinking water and more than 80 per cent of Canada’s rural population depends on groundwater for its entire water supply. Canada’s groundwater, however, is increasingly under threat from factors such as urbanization, climate change, burgeoning energy production, intensification of agriculture and contamination. The Government of Canada, through Natural Resources Canada, asked the Council of Canadian Academies to examine what is needed to achieve sustainable management of Canada’s groundwater resources. 

The Expert Panel’s report, which was published in May 2009, concluded that Canada is well positioned to be a world-leader in the development of sustainable management practices to protect and preserve groundwater supplies; however to do so, Canada must take action now. The interjurisdictional nature of groundwater necessitates the development of a cooperative approach, uniting municipal, provincial, and federal government agencies in the development of scientific programs and policies that will ensure Canada’s groundwater resources are managed sustainably. Such cooperation will be necessary if Canada is to avoid the kinds of catastrophic over-usage or contamination issues experienced by some other countries.

Assessment question

From a science perspective, what is needed to achieve sustainable management of Canada’s groundwater resources?

Report and related publications

Expert Panel membership

The Expert Panel on Groundwater convened in summer 2007 and was chaired James Bruce, Environmental Consultant on Climate and Water. For a complete list of panel members visit the Expert Panel on Groundwater Membership page.

For additional information or media inquiries, please contact:

Samantha Rae Ayoub, Communications and Publishing Director, at 613-567-5000 ext. 256 or

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Additional Information

"This document is so comprehensive and current that I have elected to use it as a core reference book in my graduate level class on Groundwater Resources Management at the University of Waterloo. It has proven to be an invaluable educational tool for our graduate students studying all aspects of groundwater science and management."

-David Rudolph, Professor, Dept. of Earth Sciences, University of Waterloo



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