Hydrogeology

Providing practical solutions based on geological conditions and project risks

Hydrogeology is the study of groundwater movement and chemistry. At Palmer Environmental Consulting Group Inc. (PECG), we use our understanding of site-specific geological and hydrogeological conditions – and agency requirements – to design and undertake hydrogeological investigations that are commensurate with the level of permitting and design risk involved.

Our hydrogeologists have more than 20 years of combined experience assessing groundwater conditions for clients in the infrastructure, mining and land development sectors.

PECG’s hydrogeology expertise focuses on engineering disciplines such as construction dewatering, geotechnical foundation design and Permits to Take Water (PTTWs), and environmental disciplines such as hydrogeology baseline and impact assessments, fish habitat compensation plans and environmental permitting.

Our hydrogeological expertise spans four core disciplines:

Hydrogeological Assessments

A hydrogeological assessment characterizes the physical and chemical conditions of the groundwater. Commonly assessed parameters include the water table, aquifers and aquitards, hydraulic conductivity, transmissivity, storage, flow direction or pathways, and chemistry.

At PECG, we understand that geological characteristics control hydrogeological conditions. We use this understanding to design and undertake hydrogeological assessments that reflect site conditions and are commensurate with the level of permitting and design risk involved.

This allows us to provide tailored, cost-effective hydrogeological investigations to support design and permitting for clients in the mining, aggregate, land development and infrastructure sectors.

Groundwater/Surface Water Interaction

Where the water table or piezometric head meets ground surface, groundwater discharge occurs. Most often, this occurs in rivers and streams as baseflow. This baseflow provides critical habitat for fish and aquatic organisms during important life stages (i.e., spawning) or during prolonged periods with little rainfall.

At PECG, we use a variety of cost-effective, field-based solutions to understand where groundwater discharge is occurring and at what rate, to ultimately support permitting, fish habitat compensation plans and site design.

Water Budget Analysis

A water budget characterizes the flow of water into and out of a system. Water budget analyses can be conducted on a large, regional scale (e.g., watershed), or on a site- or feature-specific scale (e.g., stream or wetland).

Water budget analyses are required for stormwater design in support of land development, mining and watershed management planning projects.

At PECG, we utilize established methodologies, field investigations and GIS-based analyses to assess variations in water budgets from changes in infiltration and runoff patterns, groundwater flow and soil moisture storage, and groundwater-supported streams and ecosystems.

Water budget information provides a basis for our land development clients to demonstrate to regulatory agencies how their project design balances pre- and post-development infiltration rates. It also enables mining clients conducting water balance modeling to assess and minimize potential impacts to fish and aquatic habitat.

Permits to Take Water (PTTW)

In Ontario, a Permit to Take Water (PTTW) is required from the Ministry of the Environment for any water taking greater than 50,000 L/day (0.58 L/s). This includes municipal, commercial, industrial and construction water takings.

Depending on the complexity of the site and the amount of water taking required, PECG’s hydrogeologists design cost-effective studies to characterize the hydrogeological conditions, understand the potential impacts to infrastructure, the environment and other water users, and develop an Environmental Management Plan to meet the PTTW requirements. PECG has unique expertise for supporting dewatering in challenging conditions, such as soft soils, near buried infrastructure and close to sensitive ecological features and private wells.

Our hydrogeologists have also obtained PTTWs for large mines and quarries, municipal water supplies, foundation construction and linear infrastructure, ski hills and golf courses, as well as for a variety of construction dewatering operations.