Groundwater is the sole source of drinking water in Prince Edward Island.
In coastal areas, saltwater can enter groundwater supplies, making the drinking water unfit for consumption. Saltwater has entered groundwater in several places in Prince Edward Island and some wells have been abandoned as a result. Rising sea levels could cause further instances of saltwater intrusion in coastal groundwater supplies.
Saltwater intrusion risks from sea level rise need to be assessed. Water management policies may need to change in order to better protect this resource under a changing climate.
The project objective was to assess the potential for increased salt water intrusion into fresh water aquifers in coastal areas using the latest climate, groundwater flow and sea level rise projection models for the province. Specific objectives of this project were:
- to estimate groundwater recharge under projected climate change scenarios;
- to describe the saltwater / fresh water interface and examine the geological controls on the interface in Summerside and Lennox Island;
- to predict the responses of the saltwater / fresh water interface to recharge changes and sea water rising using the flow models; and
- to provide decision makers and practitioners with the most accurate information in order to develop appropriate regarding water management policies and practices.
This project produced a 3D model showing areas vulnerable to saltwater intrusion in Summerside and Lennox Island. Potential impacts were also projected for other coastal communities across Prince Edward Island. Recommendations for sustainable management of fresh water resources in coastal areas vulnerable to salt water intrusion due to climate change were also be provided.
Assessing the risk of saltwater intrusion will better inform water management policies, safe withdrawal rates in coastal communities and appropriate siting of wells in communities.
- PEI Department of Environment, Labour and Justice (George Somers and Don Jardine)
- St. Francis Xavier University (Dr. Grant Ferguson and Brian Hansen)
- City of Summerside
Lennox Island First Nation