Groundwater Protection Regulation
The Groundwater Protection Regulation (GWPR) ensures that activities related to wells and groundwater are performed in an environmentally safe manner.
Under the Water Sustainability Act (WSA), the GWPR:
- Regulates minimum standards for well construction, maintenance, deactivation and decommissioning, and
- Recognizes the types of qualified people certified to drill wells, install well pumps and perform related services
All wells under the WSA are regulated, including those that provide water for domestic purposes. The GWPR regulates
- Water supply wells
- Monitoring wells
- Recharge/injection wells
- Dewatering/drainage wells
- Remediation wells
- Geotechnical wells
- Closed-loop geoexchange wells
Certification for Well Drillers and Well Pump Installers
Constructing and decommissioning wells, installing well pumps, disinfecting wells and conducting flow tests are usually restricted activities that can only be performed by qualified well drillers or well pump installers, or professional engineers and geoscientists.
Siting a Well
Groundwater pumping from a well has the potential to affect water supply in nearby wells. The GWPR requires that any new water supply or dewatering well be set back at least 15 metres from an existing water supply well. This reduces interference between water supply wells and lessens the impact on existing groundwater users.
To reduce the risk of contaminating water in water supply aquifers and nearby wells, the GWPR requires that stormwater recharge/injection wells be set back at least 60 metres from existing water supply wells.
Water supply wells are also subject to requirements in the Health Hazards Regulation, which sets rules for locating wells away from probably sources of contamination.
Requirements for Construction, Maintenance and Decommissioning
The GWPR regulates activities related to the construction, maintenance and decommissioning of a well to prevent contamination of the groundwater supply and drinking water.
The well driller, professional or other person responsible for constructing a well is required to comply with the provisions of the GWPR related to how the well is constructed. This person must ensure that the well meets the minimum standards for the casing material, wellhead completion, surface seal, well caps and covers and well identification. The person must also submit a well construction report to the province if required. Different types of wells have different requirements.
A well pump installer or other professional is responsible for complying with the provisions of the GWPR when installing a pump in a well. Provisions include ensuring that the casing is not damaged, maintaining the surface seal, using appropriate materials and installing related equipment.
Controlling artesian flow
The GWPR requires well drillers who are dealing with artesian wells to
- Equip wells to prevent backflow
- Produce construction and decommissioning reports for all artesian wells
- Measure and report shut-in pressure
- Report on the management of artesian flows that cannot be controlled
Maintenance and decommissioning
The well owner, and in some cases the well driller, is required to ensure proper maintenance and care, whether or not the well is in service. Requirements include:
- Floodproofing new wells that are part of water supply systems
- Decommissioning any well not used for five years
- Protecting the wellhead
- Attaching a well identification plate to an existing well that supplies a water supply system