Using GIS to Determine Vulnerable Areas to Groundwater Contamination and Proposing Green Space Conversion within the Grand River Watershed
Groundwater resources are important for safe water consumption and use across Ontario, but unfortunately, groundwater is susceptible to contamination. Contamination occurs when toxic chemicals infiltrate through the soil and reach groundwater aquifers, thus deeming the groundwater unsafe for consumption or use. The aim of this study is to adapt a GIS-based DRASTIC model to determine vulnerability to groundwater contamination as well as to develop a GIS-based MCE model to determine suitability for green space conversion. This study was conducted within the Grand River Watershed in Southern Ontario. Academic literature was consulted to determine the various parameters included in each model such as hydrogeological parameters for the DRASTIC model, and environmental and social parameters for the MCE model. The result of the DRASTIC model output identified the most vulnerable areas to groundwater contamination within the Grand River Watershed. The top 10% of vulnerable areas identified in the DRASTIC model were used as a constraint in the MCE model to restrict the most suitable sites for green space conversion to areas of high vulnerability to groundwater contamination. The MCE model yielded three "best" sites for green space conversion within the Grand River Watershed. The three sites were located along the Grand River, and in close proximity to the city centers of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge. The GIS processes used in this research project were evaluated in terms of strengths and weaknesses, and a conclusive argument was presented in order to confirm the effectiveness of the three proposed green spaces for reducing groundwater contamination potential within the Grand River Watershed.