Informed, effective water management decisions require access to data. However in our busy world where there is limited time to review, check and interpret the data, sometimes access to data alone is insufficient to aid technical staff to make better decisions. It is not only access to data that is required, but quick and efficient access to interpretations and sometimes stories can help inform decisions for the better. To further assist in this regard, the ORMGP has taken additional steps to make accessible, via the program’s website, not just access to the data but also access to many stories and interpretations that can help shape decision making as Ontario moves forward into a world with a changing climate. The following reflect two ways in which features/mapping that are available on the program’s website can be used in day-to-day decision making.
Groundwater Knowledge/Insight Locations
When it comes to groundwater, it is commonly thought that it is “out of sight”, which of course it is. Being “out of sight” leads to an “out of mind” type of an attitude and as a result, groundwater can be overlooked as a source of concern when subsurface excavations are required, for example for new development or infrastructure improvements. Once projects are underway, unexpected groundwater issues can lead to very lengthy and expensive delays to construction projects as the groundwater matter is resolved.
How best then to inform practitioners as to the potential for groundwater problems to crop up on any given project?
Certainly a very strong way to move forward is to learn from the past! The ORMGP is currently in the process of documenting key sites within the program study area that have been problematic in the past. By interviewing long time practitioners (e.g. consultants and various government agency staff), the ORMGP has collected numerous stories outlining situations where subsurface work did not proceed as planned owing to groundwater. On the program website, these locations are mapped and a short memo documenting the groundwater issue encountered is provided. By quickly checking this map against any given site it can be quickly determined whether previous practitioners noted problems in a given setting.
Water Table Mapping
All subsurface works, whether drilling or excavating, are concerned with groundwater conditions, for example to determine whether excavations will be dry or wet, or to cost out a drilling program that ensures adequate depths to reach the water table. The ORMGP has taken all of the shallow wells (top of screen < 20 m deep) and combined these with the streams (Strahler Class >3) in an interpolation process that produces a ‘Water Table’ map and a corresponding ‘Depth to Water Table’ map. To adequately prepare for field work or for construction projects, managers can very quickly check there site on the ORMGP website to quickly see the estimated depth to the water table at their site.