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Groundwater is water located in the spaces between soil particles and in the fractures of rock formations underground. An aquifer is an underground layer holding water that can yield a usable quantity of water.
Water enters the ground through infiltration, and flows underground either to be stored in aquifers or to return to the surface through springs, wells or seepage into creeks and other waterbodies. The presence of permafrost can limit the interactions between groundwater and surface water.
The majority of Yukoners rely on groundwater for their domestic needs; only Carcross and Marsh Lake's Army Beach Water Treatment Plant supply surface water to users. Outside of communities, many rural residents also have their own groundwater wells.
Understanding changes to our groundwater resources over time from natural processes and human consumption is important to the proper management of these resources. Groundwater monitoring over the past 10 years in southern Whitehorse has shown that recharge begins in late spring associated with spring snowmelt and continues into the summer, while discharge occurs in late fall and winter.
The protection of these water sources is essential to maintaining the health of Yukoners.
(Image adapted from Geoscape Whitehorse 2002, geoscape.nrcan.gc.ca)