Special Report 073

Special Report 073

SPE 073

Regional Groundwater Quality Appraisal, Cold Lake-Beaver River Drainage Basin, Alberta

The Alberta Geological Survey (AGS) of the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) has partnered with Alberta Environment (AENV) Northern Region to compile and analyze groundwater data in the Cold Lake-Beaver River Drainage Basin. This compilation and analysis will assist AENV and its stakeholders to complete an update of the Beaver River-Cold Lake Water Management Plan. The project completed a fully digital, three-dimensional geological model of the area, compiled a relational database of groundwater well and chemistry details and linked it to a geographic information system (GIS), and constructed a three-dimensional calibrated regional groundwater flow-model of the basin. This report summarizes the groundwater quality assessment portion of the project and presents preliminary results.

This report is divided into seven sections:

Section 1 provides an overview of the study area, discusses groundwater use within the Basin and provides the scope of the report.

Section 2 provides an overview of the groundwater flow characteristics within the Cold Lake-Beaver River Drainage Basin and discusses means to address data gaps identified in the current state of knowledge.

Section 3 discusses the geology of the glacial deposits overlying the bedrock in the Cold Lake-Beaver River Drainage Basin, presents maps showing the geological extents of aquifer and aquitards therein and introduces the reader to the geological processes that can affect groundwater quality.

Section 4 discusses the distribution of potential point and non-point sources of contamination within the Basin.

Section 5 presents preliminary observations on the groundwater chemical quality within the Basin by formation.

Section 6 discusses the concepts of intrinsic sensitivity and aquifer vulnerability and the applicability of these concepts within the Basin.

Section 7 provides recommendations and presents the study conclusions.

The key learnings of this study are as follows:

The regional groundwater chemical quality is generally within Canadian drinking water quality guidelines, and it has not changed detectably over time.

A number of areas within the Basin were determined to be potentially sensitive to contamination.

A number of potential point and nonpoint sources of contamination are located within these sensitive areas. Activities within such areas should be carefully managed so minimal impact occurs on groundwater quality.

Lemay, T.G., Parks, K., Andriashek, L.D., Michael, K., Jean, G.M., Stewart, S.A. and Kempin, E. (2005): Regional groundwater quality appraisal, Cold Lake-Beaver River drainage basin, Alberta; Alberta Energy and Utilities Board, EUB/AGS Special Report 73, 172 p.