How does groundwater level affect your development plans?

Monitoring Groundwater Levels

We know the problems of low and high groundwater levels, but how do you know what the level is on your property? Regional agencies measure groundwater levels at area well locations or you can measure your personal well. However, if you do your own measurement, be sure to obtain good instructions before proceeding, so as not to damage your well equipment.

Changes in land and water use, such as new residential, industrial or agricultural development, might influence where and when to measure. Measuring at different times of year also provides different information. Spring and fall measurements determine elevation gradients and groundwater flow direction. Spring measurements also indicate the extent the storage in the aquifer system has recharged from winter precipitation. In summer, wells in operation are measured to determine pump lifts instead of groundwater levels to determine pump efficiency and pumping costs [source: Fulton].

There are a variety of techniques used to monitor groundwater levels. Metal tape sounding devices can be lowered into the well until they contact water. The length of tape that was submersed in water is subtracted from the total length of tape inserted in the well to determine the level. Electrical sounding devices are used with a cable lowered into the well until continuity occurs. Pressure transducer sounding devices, the most expensive method, connect to a data logger, enabling continuous monitoring [source: Fulton].

It is important to monitor groundwater levels over time to obtain valuable information such as supply levels, annual changes in levels and the direction of the flow. This information helps the region protect the quantity of groundwater and ensure a dependable and affordable supply. It also helps developers gain insight for well construction and placement to assist in the efficient extraction of the water.

Groundwater is essential to life and a key consideration when planning land development. Before beginning the development process make sure to determine the quality and quantity of the groundwater on your property and take the necessary actions to ensure health, comfort and a successful development project.

Related Articles


  • Al's Home Improvement Center. "Waterproofing Basements." (February 3, 2011)
  • Fulton, Allan; Dudley, Toccoy; Staton, Kelly. "Groundwater Level Monitoring: What Is It? How Is It Done? Why Do It?" University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. (February 2, 2011)
  • Groundwater Foundation. "Sources of Contamination." (February 3, 2011)
  • Groundwater Foundation. "What is Groundwater?" (February 3, 2011)
  • Groundwater Foundation. "Groundwater Basics." (February 3, 2011)
  • Jaben, Jan. "Environmental audits and expertise have become industry necessities." National Real Estate Investor. August 1991. (February 2, 2011)
  • Kernen, Brandon. "Federal and State Agencies Investigate Changing Groundwater Levels in New Hampshire Wells." New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. January 10, 2011 (February 3, 2011)
  • Oregon Water Resources Department. "How to Measure the Water Level in a Well." June 2009 (February 17, 2011)
  • U.S. Department of the Interior. U.S. Geological Survey. "Groundwater depletion." December 14, 2010 (February 3, 2011)
  • U.S. Department of the Interior. U.S. Geological Survey. "How urbanization affects the hydrologic system." December 14, 2010 (February 3, 2011)
  • Woodward, Janice; Ross, Blake; Parrott, Kathleen. "Lead in Household Water." National AG Safety Database. April 2002. (February 2, 2011)

More to Explore