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Dewatering techniques

Guidance on construction dewatering and groundwater control techniques used on construction projects

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Construction Dewatering
Seb Fisher
Managing Director, Groundwater Engineering
January 2014

www.groundwaterinternational.com
Company Profile
Groundwater Engineering is an international company specializing in
dewatering, groundwater control and water well engineering for
clients in the construction, mining and oil & gas industries
Backed by decades of industry experience and technical expertise we
are committed to providing our clients with high quality and costeffective solutions to their groundwater problems based on offering
services in:
• Contracting
• Consultancy
• Equipment sales and rental

www.groundwaterinternational.com
Synopsis
• Definition of dewatering

• Surface water control
• Widely used dewatering techniques

• Less commonly used dewatering techniques

www.groundwaterinternational.com
Definition of Dewatering
• Dewatering is the term for the control of
groundwater by pumping. On construction sites it
may be known as ‘construction dewatering’.
The method is also used on mine sites –
‘mine dewatering’
• The process of dewatering can be defined as –
pumping from wells or sumps to temporarily lower
groundwater levels, to allow excavations to be made
in dry and stable conditions below natural
groundwater level
www.groundwaterinternational.com
Definition of Dewatering
As an alternative to groundwater control by pumping, physical
cut-off walls can be installed around a site to exclude
groundwater from the site

www.groundwaterinternational.com
Surface Water Control
Surface water must also be controlled:

Sources of surface water

• Rainfall
• Construction operations (e.g. concreting, washing of plant)
• Seepage through cut-off walls

Detrimental effects of poorly-managed surface water
• Risk of localised flooding
• Softening of soil exposed in excavation

www.groundwaterinternational.com
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Dewatering techniques

  • 1. Construction Dewatering Seb Fisher Managing Director, Groundwater Engineering January 2014 www.groundwaterinternational.com
  • 2. Company Profile Groundwater Engineering is an international company specializing in dewatering, groundwater control and water well engineering for clients in the construction, mining and oil & gas industries Backed by decades of industry experience and technical expertise we are committed to providing our clients with high quality and costeffective solutions to their groundwater problems based on offering services in: • Contracting • Consultancy • Equipment sales and rental www.groundwaterinternational.com
  • 3. Synopsis • Definition of dewatering • Surface water control • Widely used dewatering techniques • Less commonly used dewatering techniques www.groundwaterinternational.com
  • 4. Definition of Dewatering • Dewatering is the term for the control of groundwater by pumping. On construction sites it may be known as ‘construction dewatering’. The method is also used on mine sites – ‘mine dewatering’ • The process of dewatering can be defined as – pumping from wells or sumps to temporarily lower groundwater levels, to allow excavations to be made in dry and stable conditions below natural groundwater level www.groundwaterinternational.com
  • 5. Definition of Dewatering As an alternative to groundwater control by pumping, physical cut-off walls can be installed around a site to exclude groundwater from the site www.groundwaterinternational.com
  • 6. Surface Water Control Surface water must also be controlled: Sources of surface water • Rainfall • Construction operations (e.g. concreting, washing of plant) • Seepage through cut-off walls Detrimental effects of poorly-managed surface water • Risk of localised flooding • Softening of soil exposed in excavation www.groundwaterinternational.com
  • 7. Methods of Surface Water Control Source control • intercept run-off before it reaches the excavation • prevent unnecessary generation of water in the excavation • collect water as soon as it reaches the work area (or before!) Water collection • French drains to intercept run off • collector drains and sumps • pumping systems (keep it simple!) Water treatment • solids removal (settlement tanks, Siltbusters) www.groundwaterinternational.com
  • 8. Dewatering Techniques Widely used dewatering techniques • Sump Pumping • Wellpoints • Deepwells • Ejector wells www.groundwaterinternational.com
  • 10. Sump Pumping • Water is collected in deeper parts of the excavation (called sumps) and pumped away • Simple and cheap method of dewatering in favourable ground conditions • Limited to use in relatively coarse soils or fissured rock – if used in fine grained soils can lead to erosion and loss of fines with the risk of resulting instability • The sump takes up space within an excavation • Can lead to water pollution problems due to silt-laden water www.groundwaterinternational.com
  • 13. Wellpoints • A line or ring of small diameter shallow wells (called wellpoints) installed at close spacing (1 to 3 m centres) around the excavation. • Commonly used for dewatering of pipeline trenches • Can be a very flexible and effective method of dewatering in sands or sands and gravels • Drawdown limited to 5 or 6 m below level of pump due to suction lift limits • Individual wellpoints may need to be carefully adjusted (“trimming”) www.groundwaterinternational.com
  • 15. Deepwells • Wells are drilled at wide spacing (10 to 60 m between wells) to form a ring around the outside of the excavation • An electric submersible pump is installed in each well. Drawdown limited only by well depth and soil stratification • Effective in a wide range of ground conditions, sands, gravels, fissured rocks www.groundwaterinternational.com
  • 17. Eductor Wells • Effective in stabilising fine soils (silts, silty sands) by reducing pore water pressures • Wells are drilled around or alongside the excavation • Suitable when well yields are low. Flow capacity 30 to 50 litres/min per well • Drawdown generally limited to 25 to 30 m below pump level • Vacuum of 0.95 Bar can be generated in the well, making this very effective in low permeability soils www.groundwaterinternational.com
  • 18. Dewatering Techniques Less commonly used dewatering techniques • Horizontal wellpoints • Relief wells • Artificial recharge • Groundwater remediation www.groundwaterinternational.com
  • 20. Horizontal Wellpoints • Perforated drainage pipe, typically laid subhorizontally by specialist trenching machine and surrounded by gravel filter media • Used to dewater for pipeline trenches or to drain large shallow excavations • Pumped by wellpointing pumps. Drawdown limited to 5 or 6 m below level of pump due to suction lift limits www.groundwaterinternational.com
  • 22. Relief Wells • Relief wells are used to form preferential vertical flow paths to relieve water pressures in confined aquifers beneath an excavation • Water flows upward into the excavation and is collected in a drainage blanket and sumps and pumped away • Commonly used to prevent heave or uplift of the base of excavations www.groundwaterinternational.com
  • 24. Artificial Recharge • Artificial recharge involves re-injecting or re-infiltrating the discharge water into the ground • Can be used to reduce external drawdowns around a dewatering system. This is sometimes necessary to reduce ground settlements in compressible caused by effective stress increases • Also sometimes used to help protect groundwater resources by reducing net abstraction from the aquifer – used in aquifers which are important sources of public or private water supply www.groundwaterinternational.com
  • 26. Groundwater Remediation • Dewatering technologies may used as part of the remediation strategy on contaminated sites • Pumping from wells may be used to manipulate hydraulic gradients to control the migration of contaminated groundwater • The pumped groundwater will require treatment to remove contamination prior to discharge www.groundwaterinternational.com
  • 27. Thank you for your attention! Seb Fisher Managing Director, Groundwater Engineering sf@groundwaterinternational.com January 2014 www.groundwaterinternational.com