Winter Groundwater Monitoring

Olivia Maxwell: November 2021

What is Continuous Winter Groundwater Monitoring?

Winter groundwater monitoring utilising dataloggers allows continuous recording of groundwater levels throughout the winter period, usually from October to March. Groundwater depths are recorded in order to capture the seasonal variations and shallowest groundwater depths at the site. Groundwater depth is typically recorded every 1 hour for 24 hours every day throughout the monitoring period. This allows all groundwater level fluctuations to be captured and provides the most robust data set when compared to spot monitoring.

Why is Continuous Monitoring Useful?

Continuous Winter Monitoring is useful to support planning applications. It is often required as a condition of the development to enable the shallowest groundwater level to be captured, and an assessment of the whole winter groundwater level is required.

The shallowest annual groundwater level is required to assist the drainage design, to enable the ‘worst case’ conditions to be quantified and allowed for in the design process.

In addition, continuous monitoring can provide vital information on groundwater levels to aid foundation design.

What are the Benefits of Continuous Winter Groundwater Monitoring?

The benefits of continuous winter groundwater monitoring are extensive. The data is highly accurate (recording to ± 0.3cm) and provides a robust and detailed data set by recording the groundwater levels every hour. This means all fluctuations are captured that spot monitoring could miss, providing a more robust dataset.

The groundwater level data can be easily compared to rainfall data to observe patterns and recharge rates following periods of heavy rainfall, or the data can show that groundwater on a site is influenced by another factor if a correlation between rainfall isn’t seen.

Continuous winter groundwater monitoring can provide cost savings by capturing the ‘worst-case’ conditions early in a project lifespan, confirming the suitability of the proposed design and avoiding the need for aspects to be redesigned if it is found not to be suitable.

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Olivia Maxwell

Principal Geo-Environmental Consultant