Groundwater/Grundwasser/Eaux souterraines: Nothing is lost in translation

As a Canadian Associate Editor for Grundwasser, I am constantly reminded of the many similarities in hydrogeology between Canada and Europe, particularly Germany, as well as the unique differences, in terms of physical systems, approaches and concerns.

Indeed, we have many issues in common—including contamination, conflicts in use, and impacts of geo-resource exploitation and climate change. Certainly some commonality arises from our similar hydrogeological contexts, for example widespread heterogeneous glacial deposits and fractured sedimentary rock aquifers, but our common vision of groundwater protection and sustainability underlies it all. We also have common interests in cold-region hydrogeology—not Alpine in eastern Canada, but our northern regions are opening up rapidly to economic development and associated population growth for which groundwater could play a significant role. Fortunately, Darcy’s Law applies in cold-region hydrogeology as well, so we are well prepared.

Some differences are also noted. It seems we have only just recently started catching up to Germany’s and indeed the EU-wide high standards of groundwater protection, driven in Canada largely by the Walkerton crisis of 2000 where thousands became sick and seven residents died in southern Ontario because of E. coli (O157:H7)—contaminated well water from a karst aquifer (Province of Ontario 2002). Here in the province of Québec, we now have some of the most stringent regulations for groundwater protection in Canada (MDDELCC 2014), and large-scale aquifer characterization programs have been carried out (MDDELCC 2015), but more needs to be done. For example, in Quebec we have had an almost 10-year conflict involving unconventional hydrocarbon exploration. Although some exploration is continuing, a moratorium on drilling and fracking now exists throughout most of eastern Canada based primarily on potential risks to groundwater. As a member of provincial and national committees which investigated these issues over the past 5 years, I noted many concerns of local communities regarding their water supplies. They were indeed following the Chinese proverb “When you drink the water, remember the spring.”

In this context of our common interests in hydrogeology, it has been my pleasure to help the Grundwasser Editorial team, in the past with Johannes Barth, Rudi Liedl, Traugott Scheytt and Gudrun Massmann, and now with Nico and Christoph, and commend them all for their dedication. I echo Nico and Christopher’s recent Editorial which highlighted the need to maintain the high quality of the journal. With so many emerging “predatory publishers”, it is more important than ever to maintain the integrity of science, and the hydrogeological sciences in particular. I indeed hope nothing is “lost in translation” since … Grundwasser muss in jeder Sprache geschützt werden!


  1. MDDELCC: Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques: Economic analysis of the regulation on water taking and its protection (2014)., Accessed: 23 March 2018

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  2. MDDELCC: Programme d’acquisition de connaissance sur les eaux souterraines (PACES) (2015)., Accessed: 23 March 2018

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  3. Queen’s Printer for Ontario: Province of Ontario: Report on the Walkerton Inquiry (O’Connor Ed.) (2002)

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Correspondence to John Molson.

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Molson, J. Groundwater/Grundwasser/Eaux souterraines: Nothing is lost in translation. Grundwasser 23, 123 (2018).

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