Vancouver Island Water Resource Vulnerability Mapping Project (VIWRVMP)


Project Sponsor:         Vancouver Island Region Watershed Protection Steering Committee


Partners:                     Ministry of Environment (MOE), Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA), Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN), Malaspina University College (MUC), Regional Districts of Vancouver Island1: Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD), Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN), Islands Trust (IT), Ministry of Health (MOH)


Project Working Group:


Steven Earle, MUC

Alan Gilchrist, MUC

Erik Krogh, MUC

Chris Gill, MUC

Shannon Denny, NRCAN

Sonia Talwar, NRCAN

Robin Gear, VIHA

Erwin Dyck, VIHA

Vicki Carmichael, MOE

Martin Carver, MOE


Brian Epps, MOE

Pat Lapcevic, MOE

Tom Anderson, CVRD

Brian Dennison, CVRD

Brian Goble, CVRD

Mike Donnelly, RDN

Paul Thompson, RDN

Brett Korteling, IT




Regan Purdy, MUC

Lisa Munro, MUC


Technical Advisors:


Diana Allen, SFU

Murray Journeay, NRCAN



Project Management Committee2:


Alan Gilchrist, MUC

Erwin Dyck, VIHA

Shannon Denny, NRCAN

Vicki Carmichael, MOE

Pat Lapcevic, MOE


Project Manager:       Pat Lapcevic, MOE


Updated:         February 12, 2007



other regional districts will also participate at a later date.

2Composition of this committee is likely to change as the priorities of the project change.


1.0 Project Description


The vulnerability of groundwater to possible contamination from surface sources is dependent on both the potential hazards due to land use and the intrinsic protection (or lack of) afforded the resource by the nature and properties of the geological material between the surface and the water table. On Vancouver Island there are increasing development pressures and existing industrial and land use practices that may potentially impact the quality of the island’s groundwater and surface water supplies.  In many areas bedrock aquifers with little surficial protection or unconfined sand and gravel aquifers are highly vulnerable to surface contamination. This project has an overall goal of developing a decision making tool in the form of vulnerability mapping of the region (Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands) (Figure 1) that can be applied to guiding land use decisions to ensure that our valuable water resources are protected.  At this time the southern Gulf Islands have been mapped (Denny et al, 2007).

The Vancouver Island Region Watershed Protection Steering Committee (VIRWPSC) was formed in 2005 with representation from the Ministry of Environment, the Vancouver Island Health Authority, the Islands Trust, and the six Vancouver Island Regional Districts to work together on joint water management issues for the protection of drinking water sources.  This committee has recognized the need for land use decision making tools to better protect the quality of the island’s water resources and is uniquely positioned to provide a coordinated, multi-agency approach to water resource management.  This project is being proposed under the auspices of the VIRWPSC.

            Building on previous work in the Gulf Islands we propose to elaborate and test this approach to extend the well-known DRASTIC methodology (Aller et al. 1987) of intrinsic vulnerability assessments for use in the complex aquifers and varied topography on Vancouver Island The standard methodology involves the integration of available information on physical aquifer characteristics, including depth to water table (D), net recharge (R), aquifer media (A), soil media (S), topographic recharge (T), impact of vadose zone (I) and hydraulic conductivity (C).  The physical characteristics of individual fault and fracture systems were assessed to derive an additional parameter (Fm) for assessing effects of secondary permeability in fractured media (Journeay et al. 2004).  DRASTIC-Fm model outputs provide a means of systematically mapping aquifer characteristics and intrinsic vulnerability for fractured bedrock groundwater systems, but do not provide an objective measure of uncertainty.  As such, they are intended primarily as a means of establishing a regional framework of groundwater resource assessment in which to situate more detailed process-based studies of groundwater flow and aquifer vulnerability.

            The completion of this project will require the integration, refinement and consolidation of various existing data sets prior to calculating and interpolating and classifying index values to generate an intrinsic susceptibility map of the region.  We propose a strategy of completing the project by selecting one or two Regional District areas and completing the work in those regions first.  We will also complete mapping for several of the Gulf Islands which are in the Islands Trust area but were not mapped as part of the Gulf Islands project (e.g. Hornby & Denman Islands). This approach will allow us to conduct important research and development and hypothesis testing in information rich regions.  Two of the critical data sets that may require specific attention are the WELLS database, and the surficial and bedrock geology (Ministry of Environment).  Also, an inventory of potential hazards to contamination of the water resources will be generated through the use of various databases and existing land use inventories.  A key component of this project will be further method development appropriate to the conditions encountered in the region.  Additionally, we expect to work closely with local government to ensure that the final product is compatible with their decision making process.




Aller, L., Bennet, T., Lehr, J.H. and Petty, R.J. (1987).  DRASTIC: a standardized system for evaluating groundwater pollution potential using hydrogeologic settings, U.S. EPA Report 600/2-85/018.


Denny, S., Allen, D and Journeay, J.M  (2007) DRASTIC-Fm: A Modified Vulnerability

Mapping Method for Structurally-Controlled Aquifers, Hydrogeology Journal, in press.


Journeay, J.M, Denny, S., Allen, D., Forster, C., Turner, R., and Wei, M. (2004) Integrated groundwater resource assessment of fractured bedrock aquifers in the Gulf Islands, BC.  57th Canadian Geotechnical Conference – 5th Joint IAH-CNC-CGS Conference, Quebec.






Figure 1. Project study area which is the VIHA and MOE regional boundary (Vancouver Island, Gulf Islands and portions of Mt. Waddington and Comox-Strathcona Regional Districts which are part of mainland British Columbia).




2.0 Project Objectives


The primary objectives of this project are to:


  1. Generate intrinsic susceptibility maps for the entire Vancouver Island region using DRASTIC, DRASTIC-fm or another appropriately modified method.


  1. Complete a comprehensive inventory of potential hazards to groundwater and surface water resources for the Vancouver Island region.


  1. Method development for vulnerability mapping, sensitivity analyses and interpretation of data in order that the science is accurate, current and robust.


  1. Assist local government and decision makers with the application of the maps and databases as tools to guide groundwater and surface water quality protection in the Region.


5.   Facilitate research and scholarship at post-secondary institutions particularly in the areas of Geographic Information Systems, Hydrogeology and Environmental Chemistry.


6.   Support education and knowledge transfer through the training of highly qualified persons and public outreach.



3.0 Outcomes and Deliverables


The major outcomes and deliverables from this project are:




4.0 Linkages


The Vancouver Island Water Resource Vulnerability Mapping Project (VIWRVMP) is linked to and supports several provincial and federal initiatives:





·        Natural Resources Canada has recognized the need for science advice on the management of Canada’s water resources.  As a result, the Groundwater Mapping Program has been funded within the Earth Science Sector to develop a national groundwater inventory.   The Groundwater Pathways project has received funding from the Groundwater Mapping Program to demonstrate the contribution of groundwater information to sustainable groundwater management at various levels of government (municipal, regional, provincial). One of the case studies within the Groundwater pathways project is Vancouver Island.

The VIWRVM project will assist in local and regional planning processes such as the Land and Resource Management Plans (LRMPs), Water Management Plans, regional growth strategies (RGSs) and official community plans (OCPs).  The VIWRVM project will provide information to local and regional planners to assist in making science-based decisions on how and where development should take place on Vancouver Island.


5.0 Project Dependencies


Implementation of this project depends on the availability of Malaspina University-College, municipal, provincial and federal resources (both financial and staff).  Other project dependencies include:


6.0 Timeframe


The plan is to complete this project in four to six years. Target dates for project tasks are shown in Table 1.



7.0 Scope/Exclusions


The scope of the project will be refined and achieved in incremental steps and will be dependent on resources dedicated to the project.  In areas where there is not sufficient data to apply the standard methodologies it may be necessary to omit portions of the study area or modify the mapping techniques used.



8.0 Assumptions/Risks and Strategies


The following are the assumptions/risks and strategies associated with the VIWRVM project:


Assumption:  This project relies on in-kind contributions of technical expertise and time from individuals all the partner groups.  This assumes that the federal, provincial and local government partnerships will continue in a positive and productive manner and that all agencies will continue to commit staff and financial resources to the project. 


Risk: There may be regional and local government and public expectations that this project will provide detailed information for groundwater protection strategies for the Vancouver Island Region.  In the event that one of the partners is unable to fully commit to the project, there is a risk that the scope of the project will be diminished.  There may not be sufficient resources available to allow for an in-depth analysis of all the areas in the Vancouver Island Region.  There is also a risk that there may not be sufficient capacity for federal and provincial staff to complete work due to workload issues. There may be expectations for the products to be completed in a shorter time frame.


Strategy:  A communication strategy will be developed to ensure effective communication between project members and to manage regional and local government and public expectations in a proactive manner.  Planning sessions and workshops involving local, federal and provincial governments, stakeholders and researchers should assist in ensuring relevant input and prioritizing the work and resources dedicated to the project.



9.0 Communication Strategy


The success of the project will be gauged by the acceptance and use of the outputs from the project by local, federal and provincial government agencies, water suppliers and other stakeholders.  Community outreach will be a key component of the project.  The proposed communication strategy will include outreach activities such as workshops and open houses to disseminate the information to key stakeholders and communities. 


Outreach activities will extend to selected stakeholders such as municipal and regional district staff, Vancouver Island Health Authority staff, and local drillers to obtain data and input to drive the science and research components of the project.  An information brochure will be developed for the project in 2006.


A key component of the communication strategy will be to provide updates and solicit input from the “Vancouver Island Region Watershed Protection Steering Committee” and the Regional District technical committees, on a regular basis throughout the project.



10.0 Training Strategy


It is expected that a number of highly qualified personnel will receive both on and off-campus training with a variety of project partners over the timeframe of the project. It is anticipated that this will include the training of students (undergraduate, post-degree diploma and graduate) as well as research assistants. Specific training in research methods in hydrogeology, environmental chemistry and geographic information systems (GIS) will be involved. On-site training and project management at Malaspina University-College will be coordinated through the Department of Geology, the Department of Geography, and the Applied Environmental Research Laboratories in the Department of Chemistry.

11.0 Intellectual Property


The VIWRVM project will create GIS mapping products which use data from a number of sources including local, provincial and federal government databases.  Some of these databases (e.g. Ministry of Environment WELL database) are already available to the public.  Other data may currently be stored in hard copy format only and part of the project will include conversion to digital format.  The methods used for the mapping work for the most part have already been developed by NRCAN or modified from US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) published methodology.  The following is a list of guiding principles which will be followed by the Partners with all data and products in the Project, and wherein these guiding principles are in accordance with the intellectual property (IP) policies of the respective agencies/institutions involved:


1.      Data, information, systems, methodologies, or other IP owned by one Partner and provided or made available to the Project remains the property of the original owner.

2.      Any data or information not already part of established databases, will only be used by the Project after appropriate consent is obtained for its use (i.e. we will use the "Consent to Use" form).

3.      New data or information arising out of or resulting from the Project shall be owned by the Partner responsible for its development or acquisition, however all Partners shall have the right to use such data or information without limitation.

4.      New or alternative systems, processes or methodologies that may be developed for the Project, or for other reasons, shall be owned by the Partner responsible for the development, but where other Partners will only have access to or be able to use such new or alternative systems, processes or methodologies at the discretion of the Partner responsible for its development.

5.      Any IP created as a result of collaborative efforts between multiple Partners will be jointly owned and managed by those Partners, and (even though it is unlikely) should any such jointly developed IP have future commercial potential, then each Partner will receive compensation (from any commercialization revenues generated) in accordance with their contribution.

6.      Partners may release into the public domain general information regarding a Project such as its goals, objectives and any technical results already in the public domain.

7.      For greater clarity, any Partner may disclose raw technical information to the public, subject to any specific restrictions set out in the Project Charter. The Partners acknowledge that suspect data will not be made available to the public.

8.      We recognize that some of the data used or mapping generated in this study may be sensitive particularly to individual land owners.  Hence, care will be taken to ensure that no inappropriate information is disclosed to the public and that all releases of data follow all freedom of information and confidentiality regulations governing all project partners.

9.      Notwithstanding items 1-8, the intent of this Project is that all generated products, data and information will be available to local and regional government and the general public.  The final mapping products will be stored through the provincial government's Land Resource Data Warehouse (LRDW) and form a layer on the MOE's Water Resources Atlas.



12.0 Key Stakeholders (internal and external)


The products and key deliverables from this project are a planning tool that will most appropriately be used by land use decision makers at the local and provincial government levels.  Hence, it is imperative that the project communicate and consult with these decision-makers as the project progresses to ensure that the mapping and inventories that are produced are relevant and useable. 


The Geological Survey of Canada, Malaspina University-College and the BC Ministry of Environment will take the lead on managing the technical aspects of this project.  VIHA, the Vancouver Island Regional Districts and other local government stakeholders will take the lead in the communication and implementation of the planning and source-protection tools which are generated through this project.   Other stakeholders, who may be interested, affected or benefit from the project include:



13.0 Project Management Structure


Figure 2 illustrates the various components of the project management structure.  The Project Working Group will be composed of representatives from the Geological Survey of Canada, the Ministry of Environment, Vancouver Island Health Authority, Malaspina University-College, Simon Fraser University and Vancouver Island Regional Districts.  From this larger project advisory committee it is proposed that initially a smaller project management committee be formed to facilitate the ongoing “day-to-day” management of the project.  The membership of the project management committee will change to reflect changing project priorities and focus.  The terms of reference for the project working group and project management committee are included in Attachment 1.


As the project further develops, there may be a need to form other specific project working groups, as necessary. For example smaller focused groups have been formed to look at the potential hazard inventory methodology, manage the GIS work and oversee the WELLS database updates.  The Project Manager is responsible for coordinating the project and ensuring that there is effective communication between the working groups, Project Working Group, Project Management committee and Vancouver Island Region Watershed Protection Steering Committee. 



Figure 2.         Vancouver Island Vulnerability Mapping and Hazards Inventory Project (VIWRVMP) project management structure.




14.0 Project Resources/Project Phases and Resource Implications


The VIWRVM project will be phased and each phase will be completed as funding resources are confirmed.  The following are the proposed phases for the VIWRVM project:


Phase 1 – Identify needed data, identify data gaps, data collection, review, input and verification.

Phase 2 – Methods development

Phase 3 – Mapping and analysis.

Phase 4 – Reporting and implementation.


Table 1 below describes the different phases and associated timelines for the project.  Current funding is outlined in Attachment 3.



Table 1.  Project components and approximate timelines.  Note: project components will be completed as budgets and resources allow.



We propose to complete the project in three to four stages using the Regional District geographical boundaries.  The first stage will include the Regional District of Nanaimo and the Cowichan Valley Regional District.  The other four regional districts (including gulf islands not already mapped) will be included in stage two and three. 


15.0  Project Status


Project Status updates will be provided as needed with a minimum of once a year updates to the Vancouver Island Region Watershed Steering Committee.




16.0 Approvals







Robin Gear,

Chair, Vancouver Island Region,

Watershed Protection Steering Committee                               





Ron Creber,

Manager, Water Stewardship,

B.C. Ministry of Environment

Regional Operations - Vancouver Island





Dr. David Thomas,

VP Academic, Malaspina University-College





Karen Rothe

Director of Special Projects,

Ministry of Health





Ann Thomas,

Vancouver Island Health Authority,

Regional Manager, Health Protection








































Note 1.            NRCAN’s involvement in this project is to be covered by the Memorandum of Understanding between the B.C. Ministry of Environment and NRCAN.


Note 2. The involvement of the Regional Districts and Islands Trust is to be covered by their membership in the “Vancouver Island Region, Watershed Protection Steering Committee”                   



Attachment 1:   Terms of Reference for the Project Working Group and Project Management Committee

Attachment 2:  2006/2007 Workplan

Attachment 3: Funding




Attachment 1

Terms of Reference

Vancouver Island Water Resources Vulnerability Mapping Working Group


Purpose and Responsibilities:

The Project Working Group will be responsible for the following:

o       Direct and coordinate the technical aspects of the project;

o       Consult with local decision makers about their business needs and incorporate identified needs into work plans;

o       Develop yearly and long-term work plans for the project;

o       Co-ordinate the supervision of student research projects;

o       Attend, as appropriate, workshops and open houses to assist in communicating the science results to the communities;

o       Provide a scientific context to the community and key stakeholders;

o       Encourage cooperative research efforts;

o       Produce educational materials and work with key communication groups within the community to spread the message and leave an education legacy of an increased understanding of the groundwater resource; and

o       Work with the community members to communicate the results of the project.

o       Share information to make the project more efficient and cost effective;

o       Solicit funding for the project;

o       Keep the focus on the overall goal of the project and how each partnership agency is contributing;

o       Review the results of the project and suggest re-focussing if necessary;

o       Ensure that the Working Group has representation and input from stakeholders, First Nations and local governments in the Vancouver Island Region; and

o       Deal with political sensitivities.



At a minimum, Working Group membership will be comprised of (but not limited to) representatives from the following agencies:  Natural Resources Canada, Ministry of Environment, Vancouver Island Health Authority, Malaspina University-College, Regional District of Nanaimo, Cowichan Valley Regional District, Islands Trust



Project manager will be responsible for preparing agenda and facilitating meetings.






A note taker will be solicited at the beginning of all meetings.  The Project Manager from the Ministry of Environment will be responsible for keeping records of key decisions and highlights of Working Group meetings.


Meeting Frequency:

Meetings for the Project Working Group will be held at a minimum of once every six months.  Meeting frequency will be dependent on project activities and the phase of the project.



The term for the Working Group will be for the duration of the project.  However, we recognize that changing agency priorities may necessitate changes in membership of the Committee.



Representatives from member agencies will be responsible for ensuring their respective agencies are briefed on the progress of the project.   Public reporting will take place through community open houses and/or workshops.


Review of Terms of Reference:

The Terms of Reference for the Working Group will be reviewed and revised, as appropriate, after the Working Group has been in operation for one year.


General Operating Procedures:

·        Working group meeting information is to be treated as confidential.

·        All members are to respect the view of others.

·        Decision making will be by consensus.





Terms of Reference

 Vancouver Island Water Resource Vulnerability Mapping Project 

Project Management Committee




The purpose of the project management committee is to deal with the ongoing tasks and activities for the project.  This includes technical components, managing students and contractors, budgets and to communicate the research and science outputs from the project to the working group.



The Project Management Committee will:

·        Ensure that the funds allocated to the project are spent wisely and result in concrete deliverables to the project;

·        Provide feedback on studies underway for the project;

·        Provide day-to-day management and direction to studies being undertaken as part of the project1

·        Facilitate, organize and set the agenda for Working Group meetings.

·        Ensure that the Working Group overall directions are followed.



This committee will be a subcommittee of the Project Working Group and accountable to it.  At least one representative from each of the following organizations on the Steering Committee will be members of the Project Management Committee:

·        Natural Resources Canada

·        Ministry of Environment

·        Malaspina University College

Optional members:

·        Vancouver Island Health Authority

·        Vancouver Island Regional Districts

·        Islands Trust


There may be a need in future years to form sub-groups to deal with specific issues such as surface/groundwater interactions.  Individuals with expertise in specific issues will be invited to attend focussed meetings as the need arises.



Project Manager will serve as chair to ensure project continuity.



Meetings for the project management committee will be held as needed, via teleconference or in person.  Meeting frequency will be dependent on study activities and project phase.


1student research projects will be supervised/co-supervised by MUC faculty members



A member of the committee will serve as note-taker



The term for the Project Management Committee will be for the duration of the project.  However, we recognize that changing project or agency priorities may necessitate changes in membership of the Committee.


Reporting Out

The Project Management Committee will report out to the Working Group on a regular basis through the Project Manager.


General Operating Procedures:

All members are to respect the view of others.

Decisions will be made by consensus.