Development and demonstration of approaches to manage drinking water quality on the farm - final report
The main objective of the Conservation Club was to develop additional understanding of the causes and impacts of groundwater contamination from agricultural activity. The focus of this work was in areas that appeared to be the most susceptible to contamination based on the results of the Ontario Farm Groundwater Quality Survey (OFGQS). These areas included farms relying on shallow wells completed in permeable sediments such as sands and gravels where the water table was shallow and no lower permeability surficial soil was present to provide protection from surface sources of contamination. These conditions are very common throughout Southern Ontario. Of specific interest during this project was the development of methodologies that could be used to inexpensively yet effectively delineate groundwater contamination in the vicinity of the farm stead and to identify the nature of the sources of the contamination. An additional goal of the project was to develop and implement methods of water well design and placement that would minimize the risk of contaminated groundwater being captured by the farm well. In order to conduct the field investigations, several farmer collaborators were approached and incorporated with direct involvement in the project. This not only permitted the work to be done on actual farms the were experiencing groundwater contamination problems typical of those encountered during the OFGQS, but also provided for direct input and feedback from the farming community. A total of four farms were selected on the basis of the OFGQS results, field conditions and willingness of the farmer to collaborate. The report is divided into two main sections. The first part (Section 3.0 - Influence of variable groundwater extraction strategies on water quality in unconfined, contaminant-stratified aquifers) outlines the work associated with the field data collection, contaminant source evaluation, field testing of alternative pumping scenarios and computer modelling of the field conditions at Site 1479 along with the 4 relevant conclusions. The second part (Section 4.0 - Using the Waterloo Profiler to delineate rural contamination) presents the results of the use of the newly developed field reconnaissance monitoring tool that was used to map groundwater contamination in the vicinity of Site 1479 in substantial detail. An Executive Summary has also been included summarizing the main conclusions from Sections 3.0 and 4.0.