Groundwater management and protection in The Peace

Dr. Gilles Wendling, Hydro geologist and the president of GW Solutions gave an eye-opening presentation on groundwater to the residents and the District of Tumbler Ridge on May 22nd 23th.

The presentation in Tumbler Ridge was a part of a series of talks initiated through the District of Hudson?s Hope. The Districts of Hudson?s Hope and Tumbler Ridge and the City of Fort St. John invited Dr. Gilles Wendling to give the residents and the local government the opportunity to access information about a subject that is usually taken for granted – the ground water.

The reason why ground water moves into the focus of public interest is the connection between Coal Bed Methane (CBM) and ground water supply. British Columbia is experiencing high interest of the oil and gas industry in methane ? gas which can be extracted through CBM wells. The large coal deposits in The Peace Region lead to the highest potential for Coal Bed Methane in British Columbia namely 60%, followed by the Kootneys with 21%.

Dr. Gilles specialized in ground water and is focusing his work on Aquifers and Watersheds and their vulnerability and sustainability. His information provided details about the process and threads of operation of CBM wells. To release methane requires lowering the water pressure underground so the gas can expand and be released before it will be compressed at surface for further transport and processing. The decrease of water pressure under ground can only be achieved by extracting water. CBM well-fields over large coal seams will cause drawdown of the water table and disconnect the natural cycle. The surface water and the ground water are directly connected and a part of the cycle. Drying out of rivers and lakes will be the result of such water table drawdown.

The latest study on CBM wells and their impact on ground water was conducted on the Skeena, Nass and Stikine River and is published on www.pembina.org

In British Columbia, where he resides, Dr. Wendling dedicates his work to information and awareness about ground water supply. Dr Wendling believes that the public and decision makers need to know more about groundwater and the interaction between Groundwater and Surface water. The majority of Surface water is groundwater fed.

Dr Wendling conveys the message that the complexity of the matter does not mean that the solutions are beyond our reach and he makes us aware of the delay in impact. We need monitoring of our ground water. There were about 25,000 wells drilled by the oil and gas industry in BC and at the same time there are only 163 monitoring wells in BC (mainly in the south). Only a good data base can deliver reliable information and managing tool. Countries like Netherlands show that it can be done.

Dr Gilles is also the founder of Global Aquifer Development Foundation www.globalaquifer.org dedicated to education and support in water management in Third World Countries.

Contact is www.gwsolution.ca