Town of Sylvan Lake Hydrogeological Study

Town of Sylvan Lake, AB, Canada

Project Details

Prime Consultant

Town of Sylvan Lake

September 2021

May 2022


Environment | Hydrogeology | Municipal | Water and Wastewater

Project Profile

The Town of Sylvan Lake provides drinking water to its residents by means of seven groundwater source wells. Due to population increases and ongoing growth, these wells cannot sustainably meet the current maximum demands or accommodate future growth. A numerical model of groundwater flow was constructed and calibrated to examine the aquifer sustainability and its capability of supplying additional groundwater, predict impacts from surrounding groundwater users, and to comment on the degree of connectivity between the aquifer and Sylvan Lake.

Pumping rate data collected from the Town’s groundwater wells and water level data collected from 14 observation wells were processed and inputted into the model calibration. Three scenarios were developed to model the current and potential future situations regarding the Town’s groundwater use. The model also considered other groundwater users, such as private well operators living within the Town, golf courses, an RV park, and the surrounding Summer Villages. The model predictions revealed that, in general, the aquifer is healthy and not overly stressed by the Town’s current groundwater production. Further, some wells appeared to have additional capacity to supply more water to the system. Future well locations can be chosen using the model results. Particle tracking results suggested the groundwater would not be classified as under the direct influence of surface water from the lake. As a value added, ISL also provided a capture zone assessment, outlining the capture zones from the wells to allow for wellhead protection planning and risk mitigation.


  • Aquifer heterogeneity and fracture networks are difficult to accurately represent in groundwater models.
  • There are a large number of surrounding groundwater users, including residents within the Town with individual wells.


  • Regional hydrogeological studies were leveraged for the aquifer structure interpretations, and extensive calibration was completed using non-linear and stochastic parameter estimation.
  • Residences within the Town not connected to the Town’s water system and Summer Village residences with registered water wells were consolidated in the model, with an assumed pumping rate. Larger volume users (golf courses, RV parks) were represented in the model using the water well records and diversion license information.