Groundwater: making the invisible visible

By David Parsons.
2022 World Water Day graphic of groundwater

World Water Day, annually observed by the United Nations each March 22nd, celebrates water and raises awareness of the 2 billion people living without access to safe water. This year’s theme is groundwater: making the invisible visible.

Almost all of the liquid freshwater in the world is groundwater, supporting drinking water supplies, sanitation systems, farming, industry, and ecosystems. In Muskoka, with our abundance of surface water, most municipalities get their water from various lakes. One exception is Port Sydney, where water is drawn from a well. Many Muskoka residents, living outside of our larger communities, are also dependent on deep groundwater wells for their water.

Groundwater is water found underground in aquifers, which for most of Muskoka, are located below bedrock. Groundwater is slowly recharged mainly from rain and snowfall infiltrating the ground. But while it may be deep underground, seemingly separate from surface waters, groundwater is not a never-ending source of water for us to draw from. If we exhaust a groundwater source, it does not usually replenish over weeks or months but over decades or longer. Groundwaters are susceptible to human activity and pollution: toxic materials can leach into an aquifer and contaminate its groundwater.

Exploring, protecting, and sustainably using groundwater will be central to surviving and adapting to climate change and meeting the needs of a growing population. Take time on World Water Day to reflect: While groundwater is invisible, its impact is visible everywhere. What we do on the surface matters underground. Learn about actions you can take to protect Muskoka’s water through the links below.