An aquifer is a geological formation or underground layer of rock, gravel, sand or silt that contains groundwater that can be brought to the surface through a water well. Aquifers are mapped, identified and categorized using data from the provincial water well database.

Groundwater provides drinking water to one quarter of B.C. residents and accounts for 9% of the total water consumption in the province. It is essential to understand the existence and characteristics of aquifers to help with planning, managing and protecting the groundwater resource.

Aquifer Stress Web Tool

The Aquifer Stress Web Tool helps to make aquifer-scale estimates of annual volumes for groundwater withdrawal, recharge, and groundwater’s contribution to environmental flows as a means to provide screening level estimates of aquifer-scale stress using the groundwater footprint.

The groundwater footprint (GF) is calculated for unconfined aquifers from aquifer-scale, steady-state estimates. The B.C. Aquifer Stress evaluation is a decision-support level analysis rather than decision-making level analysis. Screening-level values are provided to assist water managers in understanding relative levels of aquifer stress and identifying areas where detailed scientific assessments are needed. For more information see: Forstner, T., Gleeson, T., Borrett, L., Allen, D.M., Wei, M., and Baye, A. 2018. Mapping aquifer stress, groundwater recharge, groundwater use, and the contribution of groundwater to environmental flows for unconfined aquifers across British Columbia. Water Science Series, WSS2018-04. Prov. B.C.

Aquifer Classification System

The map based Aquifer Classification System was developed in 1994, and over 1100 aquifers have been classified as of January 2016. Work continues to inventory the remaining aquifers.

Learn to use the Aquifer Classification Maps to protect and manage groundwater.

Search the Aquifer Classification Database for information including location and size of aquifers, productivity, and concerns about quality or quantity.

Provincial Groundwater Observation Well Network

The Provincial Groundwater Observation Well Network program collects information about groundwater quantity and chemistry from selected aquifers throughout the province.