Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority

Significant groundwater recharge areas

For information on vulnerable areas in the Ausable Bayfield Maitland Valley Drinking Water Source Protection Region visit  your local drinking water source protection website at

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You are also invited to visit our new micro website: Keeping Water Clean

Here is a 1.31 mb (large) PDF file of a map of significant groundwater recharge areas (SGRAs) in the Ausable Bayfield source protection area.

Significant groundwater recharge areas in the Ausable Bayfield SPA

For current mapping and information on vulnerable areas in the Ausable Bayfield Maitland Valley Drinking Water Source Protection Region please  visit the local source protection website at:

What is a significant groundwater recharge area?

The land area where the rain or snow seeps down into an aquifer is called a recharge area.

An aquifer is an area of soil or rock under the ground that has many cracks and spaces and has the ability to store water.

Water that seeps into an aquifer is called recharge.

Much of the natural recharge of an aquifer comes from rain and melting snow.

Recharge areas often have loose or permeable soil, such as sand or gravel, which allows the water to seep easily into the ground.

Areas with shallow fractured bedrock
are also often recharge areas.

A recharge area is considered significant when it helps maintain the water level in an aquifer that supplies a community with drinking water.

A significant groundwater recharge area (SGRA) is one of four types of vulnerable
areas identified in the Ontario Clean Water Act, 2006.

Policies in local source protection plans, for the Ausable Bayfield source protection area, that apply to significant groundwater recharge areas, rely on education and outreach to reduce risk to drinking water sources.

The policies in those areas are recommendations only as they do not have legal effect that requires property owners to comply. However, municipalities, implementing bodies, and people in the region should have regard for these policies.

We all need to work together to keep our drinking water sources clean.

How can I help to protect drinking water in significant groundwater recharge areas?

Studies have shown it costs much less to protect water than it does to clean it up.
Many of the strategies for protecting water in highly vulnerable aquifers also apply in
significant groundwater recharge areas (SGRAs).

Visit our  highly vulnerable aquifers page for ideas and here are some more:

  • Use non-toxic products for cleaning and environmentally-friendly soaps, shampoos and personal care products. What you use in your house goes back down your drain.
  • Take care when changing engine oil. It is said that one litre of gas or oil can contaminate a million litres of groundwater.
  • Use efficient showerheads, taps and toilets. If you don’t have a low-flow toilet,
    reduce your water use by placing a weighted plastic bottle with water in the
    water tank of your toilet. Low-cost inserts for the toilet tank are an alternative to plastic bottles. With a toilet insert, a family of four could save 45,000 litres of
    water per year. Toilet inserts are available at hardware and plumbing supply stores.
  • Plant native ground cover, plants and grasses that are heat and drought resistant, require less water and care, and are less expensive to maintain.
  • Detect and repair leaks in the pipes, toilets, and taps around your home.
  • If you are a lakeshore resident or rural non-farm resident there are stewardship guides that can help you reduce your impact on the environment and protect water. There are also best practices and plans for businesses and farms. Contact your local conservation authority.
  • Use rain barrels to catch water from your eavestrough downspout.
  • Keep a jug of cold water in the fridge instead of running the tap until the water
    turns cold.
  • Protection of water at the source adds protection and reduces risk to human health. Thanks for doing all that you can to protect our municipal sources of drinking water.

May 2015 - This content is provisional, provided for local information purposes, and subject to change.

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