Dr. Alfonso Rivera

Chief Hydrogeologist
Natural Resources Canada

Current research and/or projects

Biography:

I got into water resources research by chance and by need. I was born in a desert-like extremely dry land, where groundwater was practically the only source of water for survival. Thus, since my childhood I was always curious to understand and learn why we didn’t have enough water. Later in my life, I was lucky to move from the desert to the tropical forests where water was extreme and abundant, and I began to understand the capricious water cycle. Even though I wanted to be a musician, I opted to study civil engineering so that I could build infrastructure for water supply. My early works in hydraulics only increased my curiosity and I made an MSc in groundwater hydrology and wells, which very quickly prompted my thirst for learning even more. I was lucky to move to France where one of the most illustrious professors of the time accepted me to develop a PhD research program in his research centre and I became hydrogeologist. So instead of music, water became my passion. The rest is history.

Field of study:

I study the nature, the dynamic and the extension of aquifer systems in Canada in order to perform the inventory of groundwater resources in the country. This knowledge is a necessity to ensure that governments can manage this precious resource in a responsible manner.

Significance of my research:

My work aims to provide Canadians with an abundant and sustainable supply of good quality water, now and in the future, to evaluate the available groundwater supply of drinking water by mapping and studying the main Canadian aquifers thus ensuring the sustainability of the resource.

Research and/or project statements

Current Research Projects:

  • Using remote sensing in support of aquifer mapping and assessments at the national scale.
  • Use of Earth’s gravity field from space (GRACE) to determine whether Canada’s groundwater reserves are declining, rising, or stable over time.
  • Standardized assessment of the Milk River transboundary aquifer system using a 3D numerical model.
  • Regional-scale groundwater flow systems
  • Transboundary groundwater management plans and informed decisions on aquifers’ natural boundaries rather than jurisdictional borders.

Professional activities / interests

As an adjunct professor and through the collaboration with the INRS-ETE, I have the opportunity to supervise, coach and form MSc and PhD students. I further collaborate with various research institutions and universities in Canada, USA, Mexico, France, Switzerland, Germany, Spain and Argentina.

Education and awards

Degrees:

  • PhD in Quantitative Hydrogeology, École nationale supérieure des Mines de Paris, 1990.
  • Diplôme d’études approfondies (DEA), Université Pierre & Marie Curie, Paris, 1987.
  • Master's degree in groundwater hydrology and wells, University of Nuevo León, Monterrey, N.L., Mexico, 1980.

Awards:

  • ESS Merit Award from Natural Resources Canada in recognition of the book collaboration "Canada’s Groundwater Resources'', 2014.
  • Instantaneous Award for the publication of the same book by the Geological Survey of Canada, 2014.
  • Inducted as member of the Académie de l’Eau, France, 2013.
  • Best paper award published in Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing, 2010.
  • 5 Natural Resources Departments Science Award to Leaders in Sustainable Development of Canada, 2003.
  • Twice the medal of engineering excellence from the Engineering Department of San Luis Potosi University, Mexico.
  • Honours from Parliament, 2001.
  • Honours from the Office of the Prime Minister of NB, 2001.

Key publications

  1. Huang, J., Pavlic, G., Rivera, A., Smerdon, B., and Palombi, D., 2016. Mapping groundwater storage variations with GRACE:  A case study in Alberta, Canada. In review, Hydrogeology Journal.
  2. Rivera, A., 2015. Transboundary aquifers along the Canada–USA border: Science, policy and social issues. J. Hydrol.: Reg. Stud. 4 (2015) 623-643. doi:10.1016/j.ejrh.2015.09.006. http://authors.elsevier.com/sd/article/S2214581815001044
  3. Rivera, A. ed. 2015. Book: Regional Strategy for the Management of the Transboundary Aquifer Systems in the Americas. A UNESCO Publication. ISBN 978-92-9089-196-3. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002353/235394s.pdf
  4. Rivera, A., ed. 2014. Book: Canada’s Groundwater Resources. Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited, 824pp. ISBN 978-1-55455-292-4. http://www.fitzhenry.ca/detail.aspx?ID=10578
  5. Rivera, A., 2008. Groundwater Sustainable Development in Canada – Emerging Issues. Canadian National Committee International Year of Planet Earth CNC-IYPE. Geoscience Canada, vol. 35, no. 2, p. 73-87.

 For more publications, consult the GEOSCAN Report for this author. 

Expertise

Earth SciencesAquifer
Earth SciencesGeology
Earth SciencesGroundwater
Earth SciencesMapping
Economics and IndustrySustainable development
SciencesScientific research

Affiliations

Associate-professor: INRS-ETE & Laval University

Canadian representative: UNESCO ISARM-Americas