Tools to Support Groundwater Management in the Face of Climate Change

Knowledge of changes in groundwater recharge will enable users to anticipate problems that could have a long-term effect on their water supply (quantity, quality, seasonal forecasts).

Project details
Scientific program
2014-2019 programming
Theme(s) and priority(s)
Water Management
Start and duration
January 2017 • 3 months
Project Status
In progress
Principal(s) investigator(s)
Marie Larocque
Université du Québec à Montréal
René Lefebvre
René Therrien
Université Laval


In 2007 the MELCC implemented a groundwater monitoring network (Réseau de suivi des eaux souterraines or RSESQ) with more than 250 piezometric stations located across southern Québec as well as in Umiujaq and the Magdalen Islands. Daily groundwater level and temperature data are collected from each station twice a year.

The analysis of the time series data collected by the RSESQ requires the development of tools to evaluate the effects of climate change on Québec’s groundwater, as well as its impact on low stream flow. To this end, the MELCC is funding three integrated research projects led by UQAM, INRS and Université Laval, while the Geological Survey of Canada is carrying out further research to complement the academic work.


  • Optimize RSESQ to obtain data representative of Québec’s groundwater in order to evaluate the impact of climate change on this resource;

  • Develop indicators for groundwater status;

  • Develop tools for predicting groundwater status and trends;

  • Improve the understanding of groundwater recharge and inertia and the interaction between groundwater and surface water in the context of climate change.


  • Use the data acquired through the Programme d’acquisition de connaissances sur les eaux souterraines du Québec to better define the hydrogeological context and the exploitation of groundwater near the RSESQ stations;

  • Develop groundwater status indicators and tools to analyze the data recorded at the RSESQ stations in order to identify changes in groundwater status;

  • Define standard conditions for groundwater recharge and its contribution to alluvial water tables;

  • Model groundwater recharge under past, present and future conditions, as well as the contribution of groundwater to stream base flow;

  • Perform integrated modelling of groundwater at the watershed scale and at the supraregional scale.

Expected results

The MELCC will obtain tools to optimize RSESQ and thereby make better use of its data. The interactions between groundwater recharge, groundwater levels and low water flow will be better documented, which will improve the ability to predict low flow events. Numerical models representing the aquifer systems of the region under study will help to better understand the processes at work and to predict their evolution in the face of climate change.

Benefits for adaptation

Benefits for adaptation

Knowledge of changes in groundwater recharge will enable users to anticipate problems that could have a long-term effect on their water supply (quantity, quality, seasonal forecasts).

Combined with knowledge of future trends in groundwater recharge and inertia, an understanding of the contribution of groundwater to stream flows will also make it possible to anticipate changes in the severity of low-flow events on the long term, and the risks that such events pose to waterway users and ecosystems.


This project is funded by the Government of Quebec and meets the objectives of the Plan pour une économie verte 2030.

The contribution of Ouranos to this project is in kind

Other participants

  • Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et la Lutte contre les Changements Climatiques (MDDELCC)

  • Geological Survey of Canada

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