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WEATHER UNIVERSITY: A fabulous summer – or was it?

Many households in Atlantic Canada are dependent on groundwater sources for their potable water.
Many households in Atlantic Canada are dependent on groundwater sources for their potable water. - 123RF Stock Photo

There was no lack of sunshine or heat this summer, but where was the rain?

Last weekend I was at a lovely function in Truro – the Nova Scotia Country Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony – and had the pleasure of chatting with many people from one end of the region to the other. With very few exceptions, the conversations didn’t get very far before the topic came up of how dry it’s been.

An older gentleman mentioned the groundwater levels were getting low, following a few very dry summers. He was right, of course, but I wondered how many people understand the difference between groundwater and surface water.

The water found on the surface of the earth, like water in a river or lake, is known as surface water. The water trapped under the earth’s surface is the groundwater. Groundwater is used in households for drinking, cooking and other activities. The surface water may be used for things like generating electricity.

Groundwater circulates as part of the water cycle. Precipitation becomes surface water, soil moisture, and groundwater. Groundwater circulates back to the surface, and from the surface all water returns to the atmosphere through evaporation and transpiration. This will sound familiar if you were paying attention in Grade 5.

According to a study conducted by Statistics Canada, Environment Accounts and Statistics Division, on average, 30 per cent of our country’s population is reliant on groundwater for municipal, domestic, and rural use only. Locally, more than 60 per cent of the population of New Brunswick relies on groundwater; in Nova Scotia, it’s 46 per cent while only 34 per cent of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador do. I was surprised to learn that 100 per cent of Prince Edward Island's population relies on groundwater to meet its domestic needs.

Beach weather is nice, drinking water is nicer. Let it rain.

Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network.

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