Ground Water

Abbotsford-Sumas Aquifer

Photo of Groundwater Protection Area SignHave you seen these unique signs?
These signs have been installed at strategic locations in both the Cities of Abbotsford and Sumas, Wa. These signs are the initiative of the Abbotsford-Sumas Aquifer Stakeholder Group to promote a greater awareness of, and the need to protect, the Abbotsford-Sumas Aquifer. 

What is the Abbotsford-Sumas Aquifer and where is it?
Much of Abbotsford is situated over an extensive trans-boundary underground drinking water reservoir or aquifer, called the Abbotsford-Sumas Aquifer.  On our side of the border, this aquifer stretches about 100 square kilometers in area, mostly south of the Trans-Canada Highway, and roughly between Aldergrove Lake Park and Riverside Road.  This aquifer is the sole source of drinking water for several thousand residents who pump groundwater from wells in Abbotsford and the City of Sumas.  The Clearbrook Waterworks system, which provides water to over 9,000 people in the City of Abbotsford's urban area, also draws water from this aquifer.

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.

Why should you be concerned?
Groundwater in the Abbotsford Aquifer is very susceptible to being polluted or contaminated.  Rainfall entering the porous ground over the aquifer generally only has to travel between several and fifteen metres below the ground surface before it reaches the groundwater.  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. 

The aquifer at present continues to show signs of contamination, and action is needed to reverse this trend. It is important for all people living over the aquifer to "Keep It Pure!"

What can I do?
We hope that when you see the signs, it will remind you that there is a very important aquifer below you and that groundwater is very vulnerable to potential contamination from land use activities.  Be aware that what you do above the aquifer can end up in the aquifer and eventually get into someone's drinking water, maybe your own. 

What is the Abbotsford-Sumas Aquifer Stakeholder Group?
The Abbotsford-Sumas Aquifer Stakeholder Group (ASASG) was formed to help find local solutions to protect this valuable drinking water resource. The ASASG was tasked with developing a groundwater management strategy for this valuable natural resource. The ASASG is on hiatus until the City has determined its role in groundwater management and the next steps in fulfilling that role.

Where can I get more information on groundwater in general?
BC Ministry of Environment, Water Stewardship