Science and Knowledge

Alberta Environment is committed to improving our knowledge of groundwater resources in Alberta. This knowledge provides the foundation for developing policies to effectively manage groundwater resources in a sustainable manner. Many initiatives and information sources outside the department also contribute to our collective knowledge about groundwater in the province.

The Government of Alberta’s Water for Life strategy sets the direction and agenda for water management in the province, including groundwater. A description of various groundwater knowledge and research initiatives can be found on the Water for Life webpage, including groundwater reports by Alberta Environment.

Alberta Environment manages a network of monitoring wells called the Groundwater Observation Well Network to track groundwater quality and quantity trends. Information from the network is used to update important groundwater indicators for our State of the Environment reporting.

The first step in managing groundwater effectively is to understand where and how this resource exists in Alberta. The Provincial Groundwater Inventory Program was launched in 2008 to better understand groundwater systems in Alberta.

Every time a water well is drilled in Alberta, a record is submitted to Alberta Environment and held on the Alberta Water Well Information Database (AWWID). The valuable information on these records has provided the foundation for countless scientific studies over the past few decades and will continue to do so into the future.

The Base of Groundwater Protection defines the depth of non-saline (or fresh) groundwater in Alberta. Alberta has established a number of regulatory measures to protect and manage groundwater within this zone.

Scientific studies conducted by the Government of Alberta on the potential impacts of coalbed methane development activity on groundwater have been conducted in recent years, including:

  • Study on natural hydraulic pathways between Scollard and Paskapoo Formations by the Alberta Geological Survey.
  • Study on potential gas migration due to coalbed methane activity. This followed with a joint response by Alberta Environment and the Energy Resources Conservation Board.
  • Study of the effects of coalbed methane nitrogen fracture stimulation on groundwater commissioned by the Energy Resources Conservation Board.

The Oilsands Portal is a source of environmental information and data for the oilsands region. (The portal will be available later this year)

The Alberta Geological Survey has conducted numerous studies and assessments of groundwater resources in Alberta over the past fifty years, and has made these publications available on their website.

Geological maps often used for groundwater studies are available on the Alberta Geological Survey website:

Improved groundwater knowledge and management has been identified as a key issue not only in Alberta, but all across Canada. Below are recent reports that identify and assess the issue:

Review and Assessment of Canadian Groundwater Resources
(Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment)

Sustainable Management of Groundwater in Canada
(Canadian Council of Academies)

For information on groundwater in other government organizations across North America:

For information on groundwater in non-government organizations across North America:


Bedrock Geology Map
Source: Alberta Geological Survey

Source: State of the Environment