Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority

Highly vulnerable aquifers

This photo shows a local sinkhole.
This photo shows a local sinkhole.

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

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

Download brochure now.

Here is a map of these areas (January 2015 - for provisional purposes - subject to change) - this is a 1.21 mb (large) PDF file:

Highly vulnerable aquifers in the Ausable Bayfield SPA

For current mapping of highly vulnerable aquifers (HVAs) in the Ausable Bayfield source protection area, please visit

What is a highly vulnerable aquifer?

When a municipality draws drinking water from a well, it is getting that water from
underground. This groundwater is found in aquifers.

A highly vulnerable aquifer (HVA) is one of four types of vulnerable areas identified in
the Ontario Clean Water Act, 2006.

Aquifers are areas of soil or rock under the ground where cracks and spaces allow
water to pool.

They are considered highly vulnerable to contamination based on factors such as how deep it is underground, what sort of soil or rock is covering it, and the characteristics of the soil or rock surrounding it.

For example, a thin layer of permeable soil, such as sand or gravel, over an aquifer, would make that aquifer particularly vulnerable.

Policies in local source protection plans, that apply to highly vulnerable aquifers, rely on education and outreach to reduce risk to drinking water sources.

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

We thank you for all you do to reduce risk to your community’s drinking water sources.

How can I help protect water in local HVAs?
  • Take care when refueling gas tanks for cars, lawn mowers, chainsaws, weed
    trimmers, or other machinery to avoid spilling fuel on the ground.
  • Check the labels on products in your home. If a product is flammable or corrosive or hazardous, it may contain chemicals that could contaminate a
    drinking water source. You need to properly dispose of it.
  • Use containment containers, drop cloths or tarps when working with hazardous materials such as paints, driveway sealers or wood stain to prevent spills from leaking into the ground. If a spill occurs, clean it up with an absorbent material such as kitty litter or sawdust and scoop the contaminant into a container.
  • Protect and enhance the vegetation along the banks of ponds, streams and
    lakes to help control erosion.
  • Use a broom to clean your driveway – not your garden hose.
  • Clean up pet waste which contains pathogens (such as E. coli bacteria) that can run into storm sewers during a rain storm.
  • Prevent pollutants from entering into runoff by reducing or eliminating the use
    of pesticides, fertilizers, sidewalk salts and by not over-watering your lawn.
  • For more ideas on how to protect drinking water see the source protection plans and information materials at your local drinking water source protection website.
  • Fuel and chemicals, including organic solvents and light and dense liquids, and pathogens, such as E. coli O157:H7 bacteria, can cause illness and even death if they reach a source of drinking water.
    That’s one of many reasons we need your help to keep contaminants out of the water in Lake Huron and our local wells.
  • Keeping a clean and reliable supply of water, and protecting our current well systems, makes economic sense as well. It costs much less to protect water than it does to repair or replace a system if pollution enters it.

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

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