The Rural Municipality of Springfield, Manitoba, has long been concerned with the security and availability of its groundwater, which it relies on to meet all of its domestic, commercial and industrial water needs.
Although Springfield has multiple natural springs and its groundwater is relatively abundant, the climate is changing in southern Manitoba. Wetter winters and dryer summers have the potential to decrease the quantity and quality of locally available groundwater. Land use practices also change groundwater drainage and recharge patterns, which can add contaminants to the groundwater.
In 2018, Springfield completed a planning exercise — funded in part by Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program (MCIP) — to help it keep its water system sustainable, clean and safe for consumption. It collected data to create aquifer maps, groundwater vulnerability maps and water quality maps, and used these to create a 10-year plan for its groundwater management (2018-2028).
The mapping work highlighted numerous areas where aquifers are especially vulnerable to the negative effects of surface activities (septic tank discharges, aggregate operations, landfills, livestock operations, the use of pesticides and fertilizers, etc.) and poor quality groundwater deeper in the subsurface. Areas across the municipality are now designated as high- and low-vulnerability areas, and Springfield plans its land use accordingly.
The 10-year planning report contains numerous recommendations that will help the municipality revise its by-laws and policies in order to protect its groundwater quality and availability in the coming decade. The project also helped the municipality recognize the role public education should play in protecting groundwater, and the need for more regular aquifer monitoring. It also established a sense of urgency around expanded monitoring, wellhead protection measures, and groundwater protection measures across the province.
This planning exercise sets the Rural Municipality of Springfield up to ensure its water security for years to come.
- Project name: Aquifer Capability and Groundwater Vulnerability Delineation and Mapping, RM of Springfield
- Sector: Climate Risk Response
- Type: Plan
- Grant amount: $46,400
- Location: Rural Municipality of Springfield, MB
- Determine the extent of Springfield’s aquifers
- Understand the local groundwater’s vulnerability due to climate change
- Assess the risk of local groundwater contamination and clarify how land use practices affect the groundwater
- Provide recommendations on how to protect groundwater resources
- Create a framework to develop a regional groundwater management plan
- Make Springfield’s infrastructure planning more resilient through lifecycle costing and improved asset management
By the numbers
- Springfield covers approximately 1,100 square kilometers.
- It has 15,342 residents.
- It has two regional bedrock aquifers (one carbonate and one deeper sandstone) and several sand and gravel deposits that generate groundwater.
- Regional expansion of this plan could protect water for up to 60,000 residents.
- This planning project cost $85,500 in total.
- MCIP covered 54% of the total costs.
- Conduct aquifer and vulnerability mapping and gather recharging and capability data
- Use the available low- and high-carbon climate models to study how climate change may affect groundwater resources
- Develop a framework to assess groundwater vulnerability and score Springfield accordingly
- Determine which land use activities have the potential to contaminate groundwater
- Identify hydrogeological factors that pose significant risks to aquifers
- Find areas of naturally occurring contaminants
- Locate recharge areas and the annual recharge for various aquifers
- Select preferred methods for wellhead protection for existing public supply wells
- Summarize existing private, commercial, municipal and industrial water right licenses
- Establish which areas are suited to future groundwater development
Director Water & Waste, Rural Municipality of Springfield