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  • Groundwater Licensing in BC: Why Your Date of Precedence Matters

    When you apply for a groundwater license, or have a professional apply on your behalf, you’ll need to specify the date of first use of the water. This is known as your “date of precedence” or “priority date”. Groundwater users that began using their water at an earlier date (senior licensees) are given priority over more recent users (junior licensees) under the First-in-Time First-in-Right (FITFIR) priority system. Your date of precedence could become important during times of water scarcity or drought, or if a new user proposes to withdraw water at a rate and volume that could affect your water needs. The BC provincial government can apply a number of regulatory options to protect the rights of water users. The date of precedence establishes who’s allowed their full allocation of water first during times of water scarcity or drought. If you’re an existing user and you apply for a water license before March 1, 2022, you’ll be granted a date of precedence based on the date you began using groundwater, as determined by evidence submitted with your groundwater license application. Evidence could include: A well log or record provided by the driller. Waterline is often able to locate well records online if applicants don’t have copies; Other records and invoices related to the construction of your well or related infrastructure (pump, treatment etc.); Well maintenance records; and, Photographs. In the event you don’t have any evidence to support your date of first use, Waterline can discuss with the government on your behalf to come up with an alternative solution. If you wait until after March 1, 2022 to apply, you’ll be treated as a new applicant and given a junior priority date based on the date of your application. If you are interested in having a professional create and submit an application package to the government on your behalf, please contact: Steph Righi, Waterline's Water Sustainability Coordinator at: Phone: 1-844-585-0802 Ext. 112 Email : #watersustainabilityact #bcwaterlicense #waterapplication #waterpermitting #wsa #groundwater #waterlicensing

  • Dewatering Debacle: Is a Hydrogeologist Really Necessary for your Infrastructure Project?

    Shallow permeable aquifers have the potential to disrupt and delay infrastructure projects if not properly accounted for in the initial project planning stages. The presence of shallow aquifers and dewatering demands are an often overlooked component in the infrastructure planning phase, whether the project involves a mine pit or an underground structure such as a basement or parking garage. Dewatering is the process of lowering the water table below the lowest excavation depth by means of a pumping well system to allow for a safe and effective excavation procedure by increasing wall stability and eliminating potential groundwater infiltration into the excavation pit. Costs associated with dewatering can spiral a project budget out of control if proper consideration is not given to subsurface assessment and can diminish the economic feasibility of an entire project. Aquifer dewatering is a major concern when the project is proximal to a surface water body such as a river or lake, which generally results in a very shallow water table. Seasonal variations of the water table level can add an extra complexity to project timing, depending on the magnitude of the variations. If your project is close to a surface water body or a sensitive ecological environment, it is advantageous to consult with an experienced hydrogeologist during the project planning or proposal stage to avoid unforeseen and costly oversights. Taking Sediments into Consideration In Alberta, shallow aquifers generally comprise unconsolidated sediments derived from peri-glacial outwash processes resulting in fluvial and lacustrine depositional environments; the unconsolidated sediments can range from a clay till to clean fluvial sand/gravel. In terms of dewatering, both fine and coarser sediments can be problematic. Fine and coarse sediments can be heavily saturated and difficult to dewater due to varying permeability or hydraulic conductivity. Generally speaking, finer sediments cannot sustain larger pumping rates required in dewatering projects. Coarse sediments require greater pumping rates and more demanding groundwater discharge management methods to adequately dewater higher hydraulic conductivity sediments. An understanding of the aquifer sediment size and sorting is crucial because increased groundwater velocities from aggressive pumping can mobilize finer sediments from within the aquifer and create piping (internal erosion) conditions that can lead to ground subsistence and/or pumping equipment destruction. Creating a Conceptual Model A site conceptual model is integral to a successful dewatering plan because without a conceptual model, the appropriate dewatering system cannot be confidently selected. The conceptual model development requires, at minimum, the installation of numerous piezometers around the site. Piezometers provide lithological data (during installation), water table elevation data, and groundwater chemistry data. Although often overlooked, these data can be extracted during a well-planned geotechnical program when completed in consultation with a professional hydrogeologist, and result in considerable cost savings. The lithology of the site generally determines the dewatering method. The two most common shallow dewatering methods are large diameter vertical pumping wells or a wellpoint system (image below). Large diameter pumping wells are appropriate for coarser sediment conditions, where the small proportion of fine sediments can be developed out with a submersible pump, resulting in low turbidity discharge and robust well deliverability. Wellpoint systems are appropriate for finer sediment conditions, where persistent fine sediment production may be an issue. A wellpoint system consists of a series of small diameter wells that are connected by a header pipe to a wellpoint pump and can also incorporate a separator tank into the system for settling fine sediments (see figure below). The pump creates a vacuum in the header pipe drawing water up from the ground, however the dewatering depth cannot exceed six meters below ground (depending on site elevation above sea level) due to inherent vacuum pump limitations. Therefore, vertical wells must be utilized for dewatering to depths greater than six meters below ground. Cost must be considered as part of the dewatering system decision as the design and intricacies of the wellpoint system can be very expensive compared to vertical well installation. A proper understanding of fundamental aquifer properties such as hydraulic conductivity, transmissivity, storativity (usually simplified to specific yield in unconfined aquifers), heterogeneity, and anisotropy are critical to the successful design of a dewatering system. Various methods are available to estimate aquifer properties such as slug or bailer tests, pumping tests or even grain size analysis by sieving. The conceptual model should be used to guide the planning process for the selection of a dewatering method (i.e., a slug/bailer test is generally not appropriate for gravel sediments). A slug or bailer test, often conducted as part of the initial geotechnical program, is a simple and cost effective way to estimate hydraulic conductivity but is representative of only a small volume of geological material surrounding the well and may not be a representative elementary volume (REV) of site as a whole. Pumping tests are the preferred method to holistically characterize the aquifer under the site and to provide best estimates of transmissivity and storativity (if observation wells are installed). Transmissivity and storativity estimates from the pumping test can be used to calibrate a predictive forward analytical model to guide dewatering decisions such as dewatering system type (i.e., vertical wells or wellpoint), well quantity, well spacing/distribution, pumping rates, pumping duration and expected volumes. Empirical estimates of heterogeneity and anisotropy are difficult to calculate but a qualified hydrogeologist can estimate these parameters based on lithology and parameterization of analytical models. Adhering to Regulations The dewatering process can require continuous pumping for weeks to months which, depending on the site size, can produce tens to hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of groundwater discharge. Pumping must continue throughout the pre-construction and construction phase. Dealing with such large volumes in tanks or water trucks can be cumbersome and expensive so the most practicable option is to discharge to the surface. However, the dewatering contractor or operator must be cognizant of local regulations and the ecological sensitivity of the area (i.e., national parks, wetlands, fish-bearing streams, etc.) prior to discharging groundwater to the environment. Discharged water cannot be discharged directly to a surface water body without prior regulatory approval or be close enough to a surface water body in which foreign debris or sediment are introduced via erosion. For shallow dewatering sites, it is the utmost importance to discharge groundwater sufficiently distant from the site during dewatering to avoid artificial recharge of the aquifer being dewatered. Special consideration must be given to groundwater quality (chemistry) while dewatering, especially in ecologically sensitive areas. In Banff National Park, for example, limited discharge options are available for dewatering within the Banff town site; the municipal stormwater system is the only viable solution to move such large volumes. However, the stormwater system is routed directly to the Bow River, therefore stringent water quality guidelines to protect aquatic life must be met, such as the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Freshwater Aquatic Life and Environmental Quality Guidelines for Alberta Surface Waters. Consequently, discharge water must be held on site or temporarily trucked off site until three consecutive days of water sampling confirm the compliance and reproducibility of the water quality results with the aforementioned guidelines. A contingency plan should be arranged in the event that the water quality does not meet the relevant guidelines. Similar challenges to meeting discharge criteria occur throughout Alberta and are based on municipal, provincial, and federal regulations. Successful Dewatering Once the aquifer has been sufficiently dewatered and the infrastructure foundation or underground structure has been constructed, permanent dewatering systems may be necessary (where permitted). These permanent dewatering systems can include, but are not limited to, weeping tile and/or a sump. In summary, a successful dewatering program should include: Early engagement with an experienced hydrogeologist, prior to the geotechnical program, to avoid unforeseen and costly oversights and to advise on applicable environmental guidelines to the site; Development of a conceptual site model through a preliminary exploration program including drilling and installing of piezometers – this program can be combined with the geotechnical assessment resulting in considerable cost-savings; Using the conceptual model to select the most appropriate site-specific testing method to estimate aquifer properties pertinent to dewatering; Creation of a calibrated predictive forward analytical model to guide critical dewatering decisions such as dewatering system type, well spacing/distribution, etc.; Having a primary and contingency plan to manage large amounts of fresh or potentially contaminated discharged groundwater; Placement of a permanent dewatering system (if necessary) once the foundation or underground structure has been constructed. Waterline Resources Inc. is a water resource, environmental and information services consulting firm based out of Calgary, AB and Nanaimo, BC, with satellite offices throughout Western Canada. Waterline’s staff includes scientists, engineers, computer scientists and data management technicians that specialize in water well design, water quality analysis and aquifer management. We pride ourselves on exercising scientific principles while working closely with our clients to establish strong relationships for project success. If you have questions about dewatering or require any additional groundwater services, please emails us at or give us a call at 403-243-5611.

  • Jamie Wills: Retirement Announcement

    From Jamie Wills: "After more than twenty years with Waterline, a company that I co-founded with Steve Foley and Darren David, I am pleased to announce my retirement at the end of September 2020. I am immensely proud of the company development and growth over the last 20 years, the collective accomplishments of our staff, and the quality and timely service that they consistently provide to our clients. Our staff are our most valued asset, and this philosophy has become embedded in our corporate culture. In 2018, the company began its transition to employee owned, and over the last 1-2 years, my duties as President have transitioned such that other senior drivers and owners at Waterline have effectively assumed my role. With this transition complete, I am confident that Waterline will remain well positioned for future growth and will continue to operate as a leading and well respected hydrogeological and environmental consulting firm that provides practical and scientifically defensible solutions for our existing and new clients. On a personal note, I want to thank all of our clients for their continued support of Waterline. It is greatly appreciated, and I wish you and your families all the best. Take care! Jamie Wills" Note that effective October 1, 2020, Steve Foley has assumed the role of President of Waterline.

  • A Decade at Waterline

    Congratulations to Blake Hiebert for 10 years at Waterline. Blake has been a huge asset in all aspects of physical hydrogeological project work and managing a variety of projects for Waterline. His expertise includes analysis and evaluation of aquifer test data, well efficiency, borehole geophysics and groundwater geochemistry. Blake has been a key co-ordinator in the organization and execution of large scale on-going programs. Along with his side kick Peanut (the dog), Blake brings a positive fun attitude as well as a cool collection of vintage Volkswagen's.

  • Congratulations On 15 Years With Waterline.

    This week marks Brent Morin's 15-year anniversary with Waterline. Brent is not only a Senior Hydrogeologist with us, he is also a professional geologist and project manager. Over the years, Brent has been directly engaged with many of Waterline’s key clients across the Oil Sands, Upstream and Midstream Oil & Gas, and Mining sectors including Indigenous stakeholders. Brent's colleagues would describe him as friendly, considerate and hard working, as he always goes the extra mile to ensure projects are completed to a high standard. We look forward to working with Brent for years to come. Waterline’s President and founding partner, Steve Foley, particularly feels privileged to have watched Brent’s family grow over the last 15 years; investing heavily in cookie dough to advance his daughter’s dance career.

  • North American Occupational Safety and Health Week

    NAOSH was established in 1966 with the goal to focus employers, employees, partners and the public on the importance of preventing injury and illness in the workplace, at home and in the community. The Health and Safety of our staff is paramount on all projects undertaken by Waterline. We are a COR Certified company (Certificate of Recognition) and registered with ISNetworld, ComplyWorks, and Avetta. Waterline staff maintain an up-to-date standing in the following industry-approved H&S training courses: Standard First Aid, H2S Alive, Confined Space, Ground Disturbance, TDG, CSO (Common Safety Orientation), and WHMIS. At Waterline we make a continual commitment to our community, clients and coworkers that the safety of ourselves and each other will always be our first responsibility.

  • April 22, 2021 International Mother "Earth Day."

    This Earth Day, Waterline is helping to “Take Care of the Planet” by encouraging our staff to pick up the litter we see along the waterlines our local watercourses and waterbodies while enjoying the great outdoors. We are so fortunate we live in Canada where we are blessed with incredible natural environments to enjoy, find rest, solitude, and connect with the ecosystems that sustain us. We can’t expect the sea gulls to do all the work for us, so let’s get out there and do our part! #TakeCareofThePlanet #EarthDay2021

  • April 12-18 is National Wildlife week.

    Spring is in the air and as we return to warmer weather and the world starts to turn green, take a minute this week to consider how you can help the wildlife in your area. This year the Canadian Wildlife Federation wants to help you #DoMoreForWildlife by "Planting Seeds for Wildlife". Please head to their website and Take the Pledge and receive a free packet of Black-eyed Susan seeds to help you plant the seeds.

  • Water Supply Integrity Program Step 3 - Ongoing Maintenance, Testing and Data Management

    The third step of a water supply integrity program is for trained community members to carry out ongoing maintenance and testing of all the active domestic use water sources to ensure that the integrity of each water supply is preserved. Ongoing maintenance and testing may include regularly scheduled water quality sampling, well performance testing, and well rehabilitation activities. At a minimum, this typically includes sampling and shock chlorinating the water sources annually. If new water sources are developed, they should be incorporated into the ongoing maintenance and testing program. Waterline is available throughout the program to provide support to the community on an as needed basis, including managing the data collected and providing an assessment as to the integrity of the water supply. Ongoing water well maintenance and testing are often overlooked by individual well owners, which can lead to both a reduction in water quality and production. While water supply integrity issues are initially identified and addressed during the baseline testing program, if left unchecked these issues can reoccur and put the well and users at risk. Regular maintenance can help protect the users’ health and extend the life of the water well. By regularly collecting and analyzing water samples, changes in the water quality over time can be assessed and the data compared against the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality to identify any health-based concerns. The analytical results can also be used to identify potential minerals that can precipitate or the presence of bacteria that can plug the screen and affect well performance. Regular well performance monitoring, or short-duration pumping tests, can be used to identify changes to the water quantity which may be an early indication of well deterioration. Waterline supports the community by: • Managing and assessing the collected data; • Providing immediate notification to the community of any health-based water quality issues; • Advising on measures to be taken to protect the affected community members’ health; and • Providing guidance on how to rectify any other water source integrity issues, such as well deterioration. Ongoing maintenance and testing on multiple water sources can result in large datasets that can be difficult for the community to manage. Waterline has developed a customized water supply integrity program database that is used to automate most of the tasks related to data importing, graphing measured groundwater levels, notifications and reporting. A summary report can be provided to the individual water source users that details the results of the current testing program and compares these to the results of the baseline testing program. The report includes recommendations to the community members to help resolve any water supply integrity issues. It is important that community members be trained so that they can carry on the ongoing maintenance and testing tasks that are required to ensure the water supply integrity into the future. Throughout the water supply integrity program, Waterline will provide appropriate training for the community members. Details on the training program are presented in a separate video. For more information on how Waterline can help, please contact our water source integrity program coordinator Brent Morin at

  • World Water Day March 22, 2021

    “When the well is dry, we know the worth of water” – Benjamin Franklin. Water means different things to different people. This conversation is about what water means to you. How is water important to your home and family life, your livelihood, your cultural practices, your wellbeing, your local environment? In households, schools and workplaces, water can mean health, hygiene, dignity and productivity. In cultural, religious and spiritual places, water can mean a connection with creation, community and oneself. In natural spaces, water can mean peace, harmony and preservation. Today, water is under extreme threat from a growing population, increasing demands of agriculture and industry, and the worsening impacts of climate change. Tell us your stories, thoughts and feelings about water. By recording - and celebrating - all the different ways water benefits our lives, we can value water properly and safeguard it effectively for everyone. To all of us at Waterline water is our way of life. In many ways we work to preserve it, source it responsibly, and work hard to mitigate environmental impacts on the water sources within our scope. Our dedication to responsible water use goes beyond our day to day work but continues in our homes. At Waterline, water "is" our business. Join the conversation about what water means to you at

  • Assessing Lead In Drinking Water

    Lead was commonly used in drinking water plumbing, including bronze, copper, and brass pipes, taps, fixtures, and solders used for joining metal pipes until the 1980s. Lead pipes were largely phased out in Canada in the 1950s but were still allowed in the National Plumbing Code until 1975. Tin-lead solder was allowed until 1986. In 1989, the BC Plumbing Code changed to restrict the use of lead so buildings constructed before 1989 have a higher risk of lead in drinking water. Lead gets in tap water mainly from corrosion of components in the municipal distribution system and building plumbing systems that contain lead. The amount of dissolved lead in water depends on the plumbing materials used, the age of the piping and fittings, the corrosiveness of the water, the length of time the water remains stagnant in the plumbing, and water-use patterns. Water quality characteristics such as temperature, pH, electrical conductivity, alkalinity, hardness, presence of other metal species (e.g., iron, manganese), and chemicals added during treatment (e.g., chloride) affects the corrosivity of the water and leaching of lead into the drinking water. Particulate lead in drinking water is associated with mechanical disturbances or galvanic corrosion. Particulate sources include lead solder particles and pipe deposit solids. Lead mobilization may occur by adsorption onto iron or manganese particles from the water source and/or the distribution system. There are instances when municipalities must carry out a Lead Investigation to meet the requirements under the BC Drinking Water Protection Act (the Act). The Water Supplier has defined roles and responsibilities to ensure the drinking water quality meets the applicable standards under the Act. No level of lead exposure is considered safe, and Health Canada advises to strive to achieve levels of lead in drinking water that are as low as reasonably possible. ASSESSING WATER CORROSIVITY AND LEAD IN DRINKING WATER Waterline uses a combination of visual inspection protocols (scratch test, magnet test, coin test), recognized instant screening tests (3M LeadCheckTM), and photographic surveys to evaluate the likelihood of lead in a building’s plumbing system during water sampling programs. There are online lead analyzers that monitor lead continuously at a single point in the plumbing system but are costly and only suitable in specific circumstances. Waterline collects water samples from cold drinking water taps in buildings (after a minimum 6-hour stagnation period), hydrants, valves, groundwater source wells, and water treatment plants. We analyze the samples at an accredited lab that is set up to conduct both routine potability and lead analysis to determine both the presence of lead in the drinking water and the corrosivity of the water. If pH is slightly acidic then dissolution of calcium carbonate and other elements including heavy metals is enhanced and potential corrosivity is higher. Water quality indicators help understand whether a calcium carbonate film or scale will form which can insulate components of a system from direct contact with water, reducing lead exposure. When no protective scale is formed, corrosion can occur. HEPFUL LINKS Drinking Water Testing – ALS Laboratories. Retrieved February 12, 2021. Interim Guidelines on evaluating lead in drinking water supplies, schools and other buildings. Health Protection Branch, Government of British Columbia. July 13, 2017, Victoria, British Columbia. Guidance on Controlling Corrosion in Drinking Water Distribution Systems (Health Canada). Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality: Guideline Technical Document – Lead. Water and Air Quality Bureau, Government of Canada. Ottawa, Ontario. How to Identify a Lead Water Service Pipe. To start a conversation with Steph Righi, our Water Sustainability Coordinator on staff, please contact:

  • BC Groundwater Licence Application Submission Deadline!

    Are you the owner of a non-domestic groundwater well that was in use prior to March 2016? If so, you are legally required by the BC WSA to apply for an Existing Groundwater Use Licence by the submission deadline. If you submit an Existing Use Licence application on or before the deadline you will be in compliance with the WSA and your water licence application fee will be waived, which could save you $250 to $10,000 per application. If you wait to apply until after March 1, 2022 you will be treated as a new applicant, which means you will lose your 'date of precedence' on the use of non-domestic groundwater and you will be required to pay application fees. Still needing to apply for a groundwater use licence for your wells? Not sure if you even need to apply for a licence? Wondering if you need an Existing Use or New Use Licence? Waterline offers WSA licensing services. Visit our WSA Licensing Page or contact us for more information. For more information on how Waterline can help, please contact our water sustainability coordinator Steph Righi at

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