When rain and snow fall, some water flows into streams, lakes, and oceans and becomes surface water. However, most precipitation either evaporates or seeps deep into the soil, eventually becoming groundwater. Groundwater is found trapped in the cracks, crevices and pores of underground rock. As groundwater moves, it can collect in underground areas known as aquifers.
The Abbotsford-Sumas Aquifer extends across the Canada-US border. On our side of the border, this aquifer stretches about 100 square kilometers in area. This aquifer serves as the sole source of drinking water to numerous private well owners, the City of Sumas in the State of Washington, the Clearbrook Waterworks District, in addition to serving as a secondary source of drinking water for the City of Abbotsford.
The aquifer is also the main source of water for a multi-million dollar provincial trout hatchery and various other important industrial and agricultural uses on both sides of the border. Many people's lives and businesses depend on an adequate supply of good quality groundwater from this aquifer.
Groundwater in the Abbotsford-Sumas Aquifer is very susceptible to being polluted or contaminated. Depending on what is on the ground at the time, rainfall can mix with substances such as spilled petroleum products, pesticides or fertilizers, including manure, and introduce these unwanted chemicals into the groundwater and contaminate it. The contaminated groundwater can be a potential health risk to those who drink it.
With the help of experts and stakeholders, a Groundwater Management Strategy has been developed to outline local solutions to protect this valuable drinking water resource.
Groundwater protection area signs have been installed at strategic locations in Abbotsford and Sumas, Washington. These signs help to promote a greater awareness of, and the need to protect, the Abbotsford-Sumas Aquifer.