Vulnerable Source Water Areas

Municipal wells and other highly vulnerable areas need special attention when it comes to protecting source water:

Highly vulnerable aquifers: Aquifers are areas of soil or rock under the ground where cracks and spaces allow water to collect. They are considered vulnerable depending on a number of factors, including how deep it is underground, what sort of soil or rock is covering it and the characteristics of the soil or rock. Basically, the faster that water is able to flow through the ground to an aquifer, the more vulnerable it is to contamination. The applicable Source Water Protection Plans rate the vulnerability of aquifers from low vulnerability at 2 up to highly vulnerable at 10.

Diagram of highly vulnerable aquifers. Photo Credit: Conservation Ontario

Wellhead protection areas: A wellhead is the physical structure of the well above ground. A wellhead protection area is the area around the wellhead where land use activities have the potential to affect the quality or quantity of water that flows into the well.

Diagram of wellhead protection areas. Photo Credit: Conservation Ontario

Significant recharge areas: A recharge area is the land area where rain and snow seep underground into an aquifer. A significant recharge area is one that helps to maintain the water level in an aquifer that supplies a community with drinking water.

Diagram of significant recharge areas. Photo Credit: Conservation Ontario

Surface water intake zones: Surface water is water that is visible on the landscape, such as our rivers, streams, and lakes. An intake pipe transports water directly from the surface water source to a water treatment system. Protecting the land and water surrounding and upstream of this intake pipe is an important part of maintaining a safe water supply system.

Diagram of surface water intake zones. Photo Credit: Conservation Ontario