Abbotsford Groundwater Forum Tackles Local Groundwater Sustainability and Governance Issues


Purpose of Groundwater Forum

Water users, agencies, and organizations with a mandate in water came together on February 25, 2009 for the Abbotsford Groundwater Forum.  The event was held to:

  • raise awareness of the issues related to groundwater protection and use in the Abbotsford-Sumas aquifer;
  • discuss governance options and initiatives; and
  • lay the foundation for further work on a groundwater protection strategy for Abbotsford. 

The forum followed an initial meeting of more than one hundred participants with a technical interest in local groundwater held in Abbotsford in April 2007.

The event, facilitated by John Janmaat of UBC Okanagan, and Moe Gill, Deputy Mayor of Abbotsford, included presentations from key water and health specialists, groundwater researchers, industry representatives, and federal and provincial government staff. 


About the Abbotsford-Sumas Aquifer

The Abbotsford-Sumas aquifer is the largest unconfined aquifer in south-western B.C. and straddles the Canada/US border.  It is the only source of water for more than 100,000 people and is used for drinking, agriculture, and industry. 

Pressures from climate change, land use, aquifer depletion, and lack of groundwater licensing have caused growing concern for the aquifer’s water quality and its ability to meet future supply demands.


Forum Outcomes

Industry representatives from the Aggregate Producers Association of B.C., Sustainable Poultry Farming Group, B.C. Raspberry Council, and the B.C. Automotive Recyclers group shared their challenges and successes with respect to protecting the aquifer and effecting change. 

Staff from local and provincial government discussed their role and responsibilities in protecting the groundwater resource and provided useful perspective on the issues. 

The forum increased awareness of aquifer issues in the community and engaged stakeholders in a dialogue on their key interests in the Abbotsford-Sumas aquifer. 

Participants agreed that the best approach to addressing emerging issues will involve a combination of education, enforcement, and voluntary actions.  Living Water Smart , BC's Water Plan will play a key role in ensuring the success of these actions long term.



Reproduced from the Your Stories section of the Living Water Smart website.

Posted January 2010