6.3 Oak Ridges Moraine Groundwater Program and Groundwater Information Network

As mentioned earlier, the work of the Oak Ridges Moraine Groundwater Program, although limited by fragmented geography and a shortage of information on the assimilative capacity of inland lakes and rivers at a regional scale, has the potential to be expanded across the GGH. Because of their high quality, the data were used extensively in Sourcewater Protection Plan studies, in the areas in which such data were available.

The program could serve as a model not only for collecting and updating groundwater information, but also for building a high-quality database in Phase 2 of the project. For example, the Oak Ridges Moraine Groundwater Program already incorporates the Provincial Groundwater Monitoring Network data (water levels and water quality) in its database.

The database does not currently track sewage treatment plant flows, but key informant interviews indicate that these data could be added. The database could easily be modified to track any geo-located coordinate (such as a sewage treatment plant or well). Any measurement tied to that location (such as pumping rate, water level, or phosphorous or nitrate levels) could be linked to the existing database at the GGH scale.

Consultation indicates that the Oak Ridges Moraine Groundwater Program database is of very high quality and a model initiative in many ways within Southern Ontario. If Phase 2 (involving the build-out of the spatial database) proceeds, it would also make sense to bring in the expertise of the Groundwater Information Network (GIN), a federal program that tracks well records and groundwater information across eight provinces and in the United States. The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards used by this group could be used to build on the work of the Oak Ridges Moraine Groundwater Program to expand it to the scale of the GGH. This step would be crucial in integrating the different terminologies and methodologies used across Southern Ontario to normalize the data and understand the big picture at a regional scale.