The Peace River country, as it is commonly called, has received considerable publicity during the last few years on account of the fact that it contains relatively large unoccupied areas that are suitable for agricultural development. The existence of these areas was known for many years, but because of the long distance from transportation facilities, settlement within them was small until the construction of the Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia railway and its branch lines (now known as the Northern Alberta Railways) made this country more accessible. New settlement usually follows lines of least resistance and consequently the most open lands, which require the least effort in preparation, are settled first. Several areas of open land occur within the Peace River country and the thickest settled areas today are situated on these. Good soil free from stone is a consideration in selecting land, and most of these open lands satisfied this condition. The problem of an adequate supply of water suitable for domestic purposes has not as a rule been considered in new areas, since usually there are sufficient supplies obtainable from surface drainages and accumulations to supply the needs of the first settlers. With increased development, this supply is decreased through increase in consumption and decrease in supply due to clearing, cultivation and drainage of the land, and it becomes necessary to secure a supply of ground water. It is further essential to obtain water from such a source, since surface water in settled areas is now more subject to pollution and contamination.
The Peace River country contains certain areas where it has been impossible to obtain a supply of water at shallow depths, and some of these areas are within the best settled districts. It should be realized, however, that there are some large districts within this general area of the Peace River where adequate supplies of ground water of excellent quality are available. The geographical distribution of these two types of districts as regards water supply is directly related to the geology of the country, as is shown in a later chapter.
In the districts where water has not been obtained at shallow depths, it was realized that relatively deep drilling or boring would be necessary. Since this procedure would be costly when depths to possible supplies were not known and possible results indefinite, requests were made to the Provincial Government for assistance in drilling and for information as to depths to water horizons. As a result of these requests, the Geological Survey Division of the Research Council of Alberta was assigned the problem of obtaining information as to the possible supplies of water at a depth in those districts most in need of water at the present time. This investigation was made by the writer during the field season of 1929, and the following report is based largely on this fieldwork.
Rutherford, R.L. and Warren, P.S. (1930): Geology and water resources in parts of the Peace River and Grande Prairie districts, Alberta; Research Council of Alberta, RCA/AGS Report 21, 96 p.