Presentation 2014-009

Author(s) Date 2014-04-10

Regulators of the Water Act in Alberta have identified the need for comprehensive water resource management. As provincial water demand increases across the various sectors (agriculture, commercial, industrial, and municipal), the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) and Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (AESRD) have identified the requirement to analyze the cumulative effects of groundwater pumping as a potential impact to assess when authorizing groundwater use. Therefore, the responsible agencies are exploring technical and policy requirements to move from pump test based authorizations to an enhanced regulatory framework utilizing numerical groundwater models. Through workshops and pilot projects, hydrogeologists and groundwater modellers at the Alberta Geological Survey (AGS) and model users within AESRD have determined that a successful transition must involve interactive model development. The objective of the pilot projects thus far has focused on evaluating assessment tools and methods for predicting cumulative effects on aquifers given all other pumping authorizations and baseflow needs for surface water resources. In order to utilize numerical groundwater models, the model developers and model users (e.g., decision makers) need a system or an operational framework which enables updated models to be easily loaded into the user environment with consistent scientific displays and map outputs. Integrating a numerical model into the regulatory process, while conceptually simple, requires establishing a new consistent support infrastructure to develop, test and then provide decision makers access to these models. This presentation will provide results from the full cycle of model development and model use supported by a data-management and decision-support system that provides easy access to model output for use by a wide range of stakeholders. This process has been envisioned to support Alberta groundwater regulators as they transition away from managing groundwater withdrawals one well at a time, to managing the cumulative effects associated with several withdrawals and future development scenarios.

Place Keywords

Watertech 2014, Banff, Alberta