Groundswell: Community-Based Groundwater Monitoring | Ecology Action Centre

Groundswell: Community-Based Groundwater Monitoring

Today in Nova Scotia, 35% of people draw directly from local groundwater resources for their water, and the rest of us rely indirectly on groundwater. Although the quality of groundwater is generally good in most areas, some regions have aquifers that are under stress from over pumping. Groundwater monitoring in Nova Scotia relies on the provincially run Groundwater Observation Well Network (GOWN), and the community-based groundwater monitoring project - Groundswell. 

Groundswell is a community-based groundwater monitoring project that connects volunteers to simple groundwater level monitoring around the province.  The project is aimed at improving our understanding of groundwater resources in small communities.

This project, initiated by the Ecology Action Centre, is currently being run by the Nova Scotia Community College waterfront campus. The Ecology Action Centre partners with NSCC to publish student research via annual reports, found below.

Groundswell Annual Reports:

Groundswell 2013 Annual Report

Groundswell 2014 Annual Report

2015 Groundswell Annual Report

2016 Groundswell Annual Report

2017 Groundswell Annual Report 

Project Details:

The provincial network includes 39 monitoring wells, and Groundswell includes 9 sites; these wells collect groundwater elevations every hour using electronic data loggers and telemetric units which send data to a central computer. The wells are visited several times each year in order to assess the data loggers and manually field-verify the water level. 

To view the Nova Scotia Environment provincial observation well network, click here.

Black points are Groundswell sites, grey points are Nova Scotia Environment sites.
(Black points are Groundswell sites, grey points are Nova Scotia Environment sites) 

Expanding the network using the Groundswell model provides information about groundwater resources in more areas of the province, some of which are facing development or industry issues and are in dire need of information about their aquifers.

The idea of Groundswell started within the Nova Scotia Environmental Network's Water Caucus.  This group recognized that very little monitoring and management of groundwater was being done in Nova Scotia.  Groundswell was born and developed by the Ecology Action Centre in 2010.

It is currently run by the Nova Scotia Community College Waterfront Campus, where it continues to be a successful model of community-based monitoring.

Resources & Example Documents

Groundswell Project Kit: How to start the project and develop a network of groundwater monitoring wells in your own community, province or state.  This manual guides the project coordinator through the basic steps of getting started.

Groundswell Example Manual: How to run the network after it is up and running, and in particular how to monitoring the individual wells.  This manual was developed for Nova Scotia and the Project Coordinator can alter it for their own needs.  The target audience is the project volunteers.

Example Field Form: In the field, recording data and other information is very important.  This document will help volunteers keep track of monitoring visits and water level data.

Example Funding Proposal: General information about Groundswell that could be used in preparing funding proposals.

Example Waiver: An example of an agreement between a landowner and the project coordinator or project organization.

Logger Installation (part 1part 2): A step by step guide to installing data loggers and baro loggers into a drilled groundwater monitoring well.

Volunteer Training: A step by step guide to training volunteers to effectively monitoring their local groundwater monitoring site.


Contact Information:

Our groundswell program is run in partnership with the Nova Scotia Community College. For questions, comments, or to volunteer, please contact NSCC.  


The Groundswell project would not be possible without support from the following sponsors:


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