March 24, 2006

York Region completes pioneering Groundwater Study

Measurement tool shows healthy picture of York Region's water supply
NEWMARKET Working with the Conservation Authorities Moraine Coalition, the Regional Municipality of York joined the Regions of Peel and Durham and the City of Toronto to create a map of the ground structure and distribution of groundwater throughout York Region and much of the Oak Ridges Moraine watershed.  The comprehensive study reveals a healthy and sustainable water supply.
The Groundwater Modelling of the Oak Ridges Moraine report, which maps all of York Region and portions of Peel, Durham and the City of Toronto, represents an important first-step toward establishing a measurement model for future planning.
"York Region and our partners undertook this study proactively in order to gain a better understanding of the structure and overall health of a key part of our environment," said York Regional Chair and CEO Bill Fisch.  "This study is a success on a cooperative basis and it represents the first time that a useful planning tool of this magnitude has been undertaken."
By establishing a model based on a long-term study of the Oak Ridges Moraine and the surrounding aquifers (underground water reservoirs), the Region and our study partners hope to gain a better understanding of water levels and water movement in the region. 
The measurement tool provides a large-scale perspective of Regional aquifers and uses scientific data to help form the basis of a predictive tool for future land and water uses.  This will ultimately serve to protect wells and other water sources.
Among the many findings of the study:
 Overall health of the aquifers is good
 Collective water-taking by municipal and private wells accounts for only six per cent of overall water volume
 Water-taking levels are sustainable
 Over 90 per cent of precipitation that infiltrates the ground enters into local streams and rivers
 Aquifers are constantly being recharged, providing a sustainable water supply for the future
"Developing a better understanding of water and geology underscores York Region's ongoing commitment to sustainable environmental management," said Town of Markham Regional Councillor Bill O'Donnell, Chair of the Region's Transportation and Works Committee.  "With more time and more data, this measurement tool will certainly become even more comprehensive, allowing for progressive and informed decisions on a number of land-use plans."
Data for the study was used from a number of different sources, including the Ministry of the Environment, which sampled from a large cross-section of sites over a period of decades.  It is the first comprehensive groundwater model for the northern portion of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and will become even more accurate as data is continually entered into the measurement model.
A copy of The Groundwater Modelling of the Oak Ridges Moraine report is available on York Region's Web site,
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Media Contact: Michael Kemp, Corporate Communications, York Region
 Phone:  (905) 830-4444, ext. 1232 or After-Hours Pager 905-830-3302

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