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Procedures used for dewatering plans for an excavation includes selection of dewatering method, determination of hydraulic parameter, determination of the well capacity and Estimation the number of wells.

Dewatering Plan for Excavations

Fig.1: Dewatering Excavations

Set Up Dewatering Plan for Excavations

1. Selection of Dewatering Method for Excavation

The selection of dewatering method is the first step to establish dewatering plan. Table 1 can be used to select suitable dewatering method based on the type of soil and excavation depth.

Different types of excavation dewatering system are shown from Figure 2 through Figure 6.

Table-1: Selection of dewatering method based on the type of soil and excavation depth

Dewatering methods Suitable type of soil Suitable depth of excavation, m
Open sumpGravel (including fine, medium, and coarse), and coarse sandLess than 4
Well pointCoarse; medium; and fine sand, and fine gravel4-8
Vacuum well pointFine and medium sand, coarse and medium silt4-8
Electro-osmosisFine sand, coarse; medium; and fine silt4-8
Deep wellCoarse; medium; and gravel, coarse and medium sand20-24
Deep well+ auxiliary vacuum pumpsFine grave, coarse; medium; and fine sand, coarse and medium siltGreater than 28

Open Sump Dewatering System

Fig.2: Open Sump Dewatering System

Well Point Dewatering System

Fig.3: Well Point Dewatering System

Electro-Osmosis Dewatering System

Fig.4: Electro-Osmosis Dewatering System

Deep Well Excavation System

Fig.5: Deep Well Excavation System

Deep Well Excavation System

Fig.6: Deep Well Excavation System

2. Determination of Hydraulic Parameter

There are number of hydraulic parameters that need to be evaluated based on the formula used. For example, it is required to evaluate coefficient of permeability solely if equilibrium formula such as Thiem’s equilibrium equation is used.

Coefficient of permeability can be computed using pumping tests, falling head test, constant head test, or empirical formula. The most acceptable technique for coefficient of permeability is empirical formula and pumping tests.

Filling head and constant head tests are not desirable because the disturbance of the samples would prevent fully represent the in-situ soil.

If un-equilibrium equation is used for instance Theeis’s and Jacob equation, then coefficient of transmissivity and coefficient of storage need to be computed.

The coefficient of transmissivity is equal to the coefficient of permeability times the thickness of aquifer. The coefficient of storage ranges from 0.0005 to 0.001.

3. Determination of Well Capacity

It is considerably significant to evaluate the capacity of the well since it is the base for the design and cost of dewatering process execution.

Empirical formula has been developed to estimate the capacity of the well. The equation can be expressed as follow:

Determination of Well Capacity


Qw: Well discharge capacity, m3/s

hw: Groundwater level at which groundwater flows into the well as it is explained in Figure 1, m

rw: Radius of the well, m

k: Coefficient of permeability

It should be known that, the evaluation of hw is very difficult, that is why it is acceptable to assume that hw is equal to the groundwater level in the deep well at the preliminary estimation.

Because the computations of well capacity have substantial significant, that is why the provision of a safety factor is highly recommended. It is possible to calculate well capacity using step drawdown pumping test which more reliable than the value obtained from empirical formula.

Capacity of Well

Fig.7: Capacity of Well

4. Estimation of Number of Wells

Generally, groundwater level shall be lowered around 0.5 to 1m below the bottom of excavation so as to keep the bottom of excavation dry. This cannot be achieved unless required numbers of wells are placed.

Steps required to be taken to estimate number of wells include:

  • The calculation of total quantity of water required to be pumped using either equilibrium or non-equilibrium empirical equation as discussed above (determination of hydraulic parameters).
  • Compute the capacity of each wells using equation 1 explained in the above section.
  • Compute the number of wells by dividing total amount of water needed to be pumped by the capacity of single well.

Dewatering Wells Installed in an Excavation

Fig.8: Dewatering Wells Installed in an Excavation

About Madeh Izat HamakareemVerified

Madeh is a Structural Engineer who works as Assistant Lecturer in Koya University. He is the author, editor and partner at