Presentation 2016-007

Author(s) Date 2016-04-08

The ability to assess and visualize cumulative effects of groundwater use has been a desired outcome for the Alberta Energy Regulator – Alberta Geological Survey (AER-AGS) and Alberta Environment and Parks (EP) since at least 2008, when the Provincial Groundwater Inventory Program was formalized. Understanding cumulative effects of groundwater pumping as part of authorizing future groundwater allocations has been identified as a critical component in developing existing authorization processes and government policy. Utilizing numerical groundwater models was identified early on to be a requirement to achieve this outcome. However, it was also recognized that producing stand-alone builds with no ability to interact with regional-scale models, overprinted by the difficultly to continuously improve models with new data and knowledge was not sustainable in the long term. In 2015, AER-AGS and EP continued to pursue the evaluation of water management systems that would allow numerical models, and supporting data, to be hosted within a user environment enabling the prediction of cumulative groundwater withdrawals on aquifers and surface water flows, in addition to scenario analysis for future expected demands (e.g. water demand for hydraulic fracturing). The initial results thus far have yielded a prototype groundwater information system with structured workflows to assess groundwater use versus availability, cumulative effects of groundwater withdrawals, and allow for scenario analysis to predict hydrologic response to anticipated future demand. This initial configuration was completed in west-central Alberta given the vast shale-gas resources and forecasted water demand for hydraulic fracturing. Customizing this system with user displays and information products to meet the requirements of hydrogeologists within AER and EP has identified technical gaps, such as rapidly determining groundwater availability before numerical models have been deployed. This presentation will elaborate on the prototype groundwater information system and initial results therein focused on estimating groundwater use versus availability. The benefits and applicability of sophisticated water management systems in helping achieve water policy assurance and conservation has been recognized from this work.

Place Keywords

WaterTech 2016