Mapping waterworks under ground; Hydrogeologist seeks to trace paths of Canada’s innumerable aquifers

Alfonso Rivera, Canada's chief hydrogeologist shown here beside the Niagara River, is probing the country's underground waterworks. Groundwater is used by millions of Canadians and feeds springs, wetlands, rivers and lakes. PHOTO: HANDOUT

Alfonso Rivera, Canada’s chief hydrogeologist shown here beside the Niagara River, is probing the country’s underground waterworks. Groundwater is used by millions of Canadians and feeds springs, wetlands, rivers and lakes. 

The water drops as rain and snow in the Sweetgrass Hills of Montana and then disappears beneath the prairie landscape, some of it flowing slowly north beneath the Canada-U.S. border.

Alfonso Rivera stresses the “slowly.”

Drill a well into the aquifer near Taber, Alberta, 100 kilometres north of the hills, and the water can be close to a half million years old, says Rivera, Canada’s chief hydrogeologist.

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Pesticide commonly used on Canadian farmland linked to bird declines

4_barnswallow1-nicksaundersControversial pesticides, which are used “prophylactically” on millions of hectares of Canadian farmland, have been linked to not only the declines in bees, but also birds. A Dutch study released Wednesday provides the strongest evidence yet that neonicotinoids are harming insect-eating birds like swallows, which are in sharp decline.

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Changing climate at root of ‘utterly unprecedented’ summer flood

Floodwaters inundate a farmstead near Gainsborough, Sask.  ~ CP Don Healy

Floodwaters inundate a farmstead near Gainsborough, Sask.
~ CP Don Healy

Published July 6, 2014

Smith Creek in southeastern Saskatchewan normally runs dry in July. Last week it hit an all-time high and the stream gauge that scientists have been monitoring for decades is now under water.

So are countless homes and farms in Saskatchewan and Manitoba where the province has declared a state of emergency and called in the military to help deal with the stunning summer flood.

“It’s utterly unprecedented,” says John Pomeroy, director of the centre for hydrology at the University of Saskatchewan. While as horrified as anyone by the flooding he is perhaps not quite as surprised. Continue reading →