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Government of India & Government of The Netherlands


May 2002
May - 2002 TOC
Table of Contents
Preface 1
1 Piezometer Network 2
1.1 Background 2
2 Need for Operation and Maintenance (O&M) Plan 3
2.1 Implementation of O & M Programme 4
2.2 Need for Periodical Inspection 4
3 Inspections Details 6
3.1 Approachability 6
3.2 Inspection of Logbooks 6
3.3 Inspection of Local Site Conditions 7
3.4 Inspection of Fencing 8
3.5 Inspection of Protective Cover 8
3.6 Validating Geographical Co-ordinates 9
3.7 Inspection of Observation Wells 9
3.8 Inspection of Surface Casing of Piezometers without DWLR 10
3.9 Calibrate Measuring Tapes 10
3.10 Examination of Water Level Hydrographs 12
3.11 Identification of Maintenance Tasks Based on the Inspection 13
4 Follow-up of Field Investigations 17
4.1 Down-hole Geophysical Logging 19
4.2 Pumping of Monitoring Structures 19
4.3 Carrying out Aquifer Performance Tests 21
4.4 Development of Piezometer 22
4.5 Removal of Roots 23
4.6 Hydrofracturing 23
4.7 Deepening of Piezometer 25
5 Maintenance of Digital Water Level Recorders 26
May - 2002 Page 1
The critical components making up a groundwater monitoring network are the Observation
Wells, Piezometers, Digital Water Level Recorders (DWLRs), Water Quality Networks,
Laboratories and the Data Centre's. Historically, the observation wells have been the
singular source for understanding groundwater dynamics. This has been further
strengthened by the construction of piezometers, many of which have been equipped with
DWLRs. Water level data emerging from the piezometers with DWLRs have started
providing new insights on medium and short-term cycles of groundwater fluctuations, rainfall-
recharge relationships and groundwater quality changes, and also enabled refinement of
groundwater resources computations. The optimum performance of the monitoring network
needs to be ensured through well-defined Operation & Maintenance (O&M) practices. This
calls for establishment of O&M procedures supported with adequate budgets and trained
Generally, the maintenance of monitoring systems has often been neglected and deferred
until the performance declined considerably or the system collapsed. This should not be
allowed to happen with the infrastructure created under the Hydrology Project (HP). Hence,
there is a need to formulate and implement a well- defined O&M programme.
The Consultants to the Hydrology Project have been assisting the participating agencies in
the formulation of well defined Operation and Maintenance procedures, with focus on
maintenance and upkeep of the water level monitoring network established under the HP,
even long after the funding from the World Bank is over. For developing the O&M policy a
number of HIS operationalisation - regional level - workshops have been conducted,
beginning August 2001, in the different states. Division/District/ Sub-division officers along
with the field staff involved with water level/water quality data collection have participated in
the workshops. The participants deliberated on the different themes that should be part of
preventive maintenance as well as problem specific issues, and made recommendations.
The manpower, budgetary requirements and operational procedures were also discussed,
which has been reflected in the recommendations.
This manual explains the basics of maintenance and how it is to be done. It is an outcome
of the discussions in the numerous workshops. It systematically outlines the O&M
procedures focusing on the upkeep of the piezometers and presenting them in a number of
logical steps. Simple procedures preventing the declining performance of piezometers are
discussed. The manual does not advocate a single strategy but recommends a series of
procedures. O&M procedures should be guided by local hydrogeological settings, water
quality conditions, the design of the structure, the distribution of the network and the socio-
economic settings around the monitoring locations.
It is expected that the guidelines will help in assessing the O & M procedures, budgetary
requirements and staff that would be required for maintenance of the monitoring network.
Detailed maintenance of DWLRs and the Data Centres is not discussed in the manual as
these will be company-specific, normally to be taken care of by the vendors through an
Active involvement of the Hydrology Data Users Group (HDUG) and the local community
has to be envisaged in the O&M programme. Feedback from the HDUGs and frequent
interaction with the local community in the neighbourhood of the network stations, especially
farmers, youth and school children, and sharing the information generated from the network
with the community, would help in devising new approaches in participatory O&M
May - 2002 Page 2
1 Piezometer Network
1.1 Background
Historically, groundwater levels have been monitored using privately owned open dug wells
tapping the upper unconfined aquifers. These levels reveal the piezometric head/water table
elevation of the semi-confined/unconfined aquifers. However, the necessary well-aquifer
hydraulic connection has not always been well established. The frequency of monitoring has
generally been restricted to a few times in a year corresponding to water levels during pre-
monsoon, monsoon, post-monsoon and winter seasons. These water levels have been used
to construct water table hydrographs representing the troughs and peaks of the water table.
In reality, many times these data have been too sparse to construct reliable and credible
water level hydrographs.
The Hydrology Project has enabled construction of a large number of scientifically designed
piezometers tapping unconfined and deeper aquifers. A piezometer is a purpose-built
observation well that facilitates measurement of the piezometric head of the selected aquifer.
Since the area covered under the project (Central & South India) is largely made up of
consolidated formations, the bulk of the piezometers constructed in these formations has
been designed as bore-wells and a limited number in unconsolidated formations as tube
In order to be effective, these piezometers should always have the necessary hydraulic
connection with the targeted aquifers and should be suitably isolated from
overlying/underlying aquifers. Only then the water levels monitored in these piezometers will
continue to provide a reliable water level elevation, representative of the regional piezometric
elevation in its vicinity. Digital Water Level Recorders (DWLRs) are installed in a number of
piezometers. Optimally functioning DWLRs can only give undistorted piezometric head at the
desired frequency.
High frequency water level monitoring using the DWLR has enabled the generation of
continuous hydrographs providing data on annual cycles. It also picks up many cycles of
shorter duration like seasonal, barometric, daily, and tidal cycles. This monitoring has helped
in generating a better understanding of the groundwater system, and of the recharge rainfall-
response in different hydrogeological situations. It has also helped in refining the estimation
of groundwater resources. Piezometers have become a reliable source for sampling the
groundwater from the tapped aquifer for water quality monitoring.
May - 2002 Page 3
2 Need for Operation and Maintenance (O&M) Plan
The integrated groundwater monitoring networks comprise the newly constructed
piezometers and the observation wells of both the state and central agencies. In order to
ensure generation of reliable data from the networks, the piezometers and the observation
wells have to be systematically maintained. Under-performing observation wells and
piezometers would generate erroneous data, that could result in wrong interpretations. This
would in the long run result in formulating wrong policies and legislations.
Declining performance of piezometers and observation wells is natural with the passage of
time. The declining performance needs to be anticipated and preventive maintenance needs
to be carried out. The causative factors for declining performances will be largely guided by
the local conditions and these have to be well understood, so as to formulate suitable
maintenance strategies.
Open dug wells are referred to as the most efficient groundwater structures and, hence, in a
normal situation, they should be the ideal structure for monitoring the water levels. In the
case of observation wells the reliability of the data would decrease considerably when:
the observation well goes into disuse and is used for dumping waste
declining water levels result in drying up of the well for part of, or throughout the year
there is siltation in the well
the well collapses
there are damages to the platform leading to seepage of surface water and domestic
the monitoring structure is submerged for part of, or throughout the year
there is a number of production wells near the open well overlapping the area of
Piezometers are simple structures and would require very little for a regular upkeep, also
since there are no pumping equipments. Periodically it may require cleaning and/or
rehabilitation, removing unwanted materials and improving the flow of the surrounding
aquifer to the piezometer. Poor performance can be expected due to:
clogging of the fractures or deposition on the bore-hole walls
poor or under-development of the piezometer at the time of construction
general decline in regional water levels leading to seasonal or complete drying up of
siltation leading to blocking significant portions of the water bearing zones/screens
collapse of the piezometer
incrustation of the screen
growth of roots from the sides of the bore-hole
heavy influence of other production wells near the piezometers overlapping the area of
seepage of surface water due to failure of sanitary seals
dropping of DWLR into the piezometer
submergence of the piezometer for part of, or throughout the year
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The O&M procedures should identify the monitoring structures that encounter one or more of
the problems listed above. Data emerging from such suspect structures should be identified
at the initial stages itself and these structures should be repaired. In cases where the
deterioration is beyond repair, the monitoring structures should be abandoned and suitable
replacements planned. The O&M strategy should be preventive in nature rather than
curative. It has to be recognised that deterioration of monitoring structures is natural with
time, hence there is a need to invest in maintenance. Only this can ensure generation of
data of reliable quality. In case of piezometers, the aim should to be maintain them in their
original drilled/cased depth, ensuring a good hydraulic connection with the groundwater
reservoir being monitored. The O&M plan has to be formulated by all the agencies with a
clear definition of the procedures, standard maintenance practices, prescribed technical
options for different generic problems with clear recognition of responsibilities at the different
levels, the budgetary requirements, reporting and evaluation procedures.
2.1 Implementation of O & M Programme
An ideal O&M policy should ensure that a series of procedures are in place for monitoring
the health of all the monitoring structures.
Maintenance of the observation wells would continue to be a tricky issue, as most of them
are privately owned. However, it has to be ensured that non-representative observation wells
do not continue to generate data. (It was reported in the workshops that a number of
observation wells are fully/seasonally abandoned open wells, which sometimes turn into
garbage dumps and need immediate replacement). These need to be replaced by reliable
open wells or dedicated piezometers. Review of the performance of all the observation wells
appears very relevant and all the agencies are advised to carry out a detailed examination of
all the observation wells and confirm that the data emanating from them are reliable.
Declining performance of a certain number of piezometers constructed under the Hydrology
Project has also been reported. The problems that result in the poor performance need to be
understood, the solutions for reviving them identified and repairs carried out so as to bring
them back to optimally performing levels.
2.2 Need for Periodical Inspection
The health of the monitoring network (for water level and water quality monitoring) needs to
be periodically evaluated by competent authorities in the different districts/divisions/regions,
so as to reassure that the data generated are reliable and that the monitoring practices are
in agreement with the prescribed methodology.
The officers responsible for data collection have the singular responsibility of picking up the
first indicator that reflects a less than optimal performance of the structure. Keen
observations followed by systematic scrutiny of the data during every observation are the
key to picking up declining performances. The officers responsible for data collection have to
allocate adequate time at all observation sites for evaluating the structures and the data. It
has to be always kept in mind that data emerging from a poorly performing monitoring
structure can lead to wrong interpretations. Any structure whose performance is considered
suspect by the field-data collector has to be reported to the concerned officer recommending
follow-up investigations.
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As a procedure, detailed inspection has to be carried out annually or whenever earlier as
requested by the field officer responsible for data collection.
The inspection should be carried out by the In-charge accompanied by the officers
responsible for data collection. These inspections need to be carried out preferably two
months prior to the onset of the monsoon, so that remedial actions can be taken up before
the monsoon. As part of the inspection the supervisor should witness field measurements of
water levels, water quality sampling and DWLR data transfer. The civil structures have to be
examined, the instruments inspected and the neighbourhood of the monitoring structures
observed. Brief chats with the people in the neighbourhood should prove beneficial in
understanding issues that are not seen or otherwise visualised during the inspection. The
inspection should ensure that the monitoring structure:
is providing reliable data
identifies the potential threats that could affect the generation of reliable data
identifies solutions for ensuring continuous generation of data
makes plans for ensuring the implementation of periodic maintenance procedures
verifies the skills of the field officer in-charge of data collection
inspects the data collection formats and log books and cross-checks them in the field
makes an estimate of the maintenance budget
checks the performance and the discipline of the observation staff and staff motivation
identifies any observation procedure errors
calibrates the measuring tape
The integration of the individual networks of the State and Central Agencies has to be
ensured through regular meetings between the agencies, for an exchange of notes after
each inspection. A joint inspection is also useful at times, but is not always a necessity.
May - 2002 Page 6
3 Inspections Details
The inspection should verify whether the construction of the piezometer has been matching
the specifications and whether all the relevant information regarding the piezometer
construction and the local conditions is recorded accurately. Further, it should look at the
approachability of the monitoring site, the time taken for reaching the site, the
neighbourhood of the site, the status of the fence and of the protection cover and then
examine the monitoring structure itself. The inspection team should also address issues
related to facilities provided to the monitoring team, including timely availability of transport,
fuel allocation, the status of monitoring instruments, the availability of spares and other
relevant issues.
3.1 Approachability
The water level monitoring network established under the Hydrology Project has a large area
coverage. The network represents the different hydrogeological units and aquifer systems. It
is likely that a limited number of these monitoring structures are not easily approachable (or
probably not at all) throughout the year. It has to be ensured that the normal routes taken for
reaching the monitoring structures are inspected and bottlenecks, if any, clearly identified,
and that alternative routes, if any, have also been identified and inspected. During the
inspection of the roads not only the mobility of jeeps but also of heavy trucks, that would
carry the water quality sampling pumps/compressor/pumping test units/drilling rig/
hydrofracturing units, has to be kept in mind. In terrain where approachability is difficult
during certain seasons, the feasibility of using local observers (with the required technical
skills) to monitor the data for preventing discontinuity in data generation has to be examined.
The advisability of installing DWLRs for monitoring water levels in such piezometers also has
to be examined.
A route map should be prepared for all observation sites giving the approach road from the
nearest town/highway or prominent feature. The map should give the distances, types of
roads, major bottlenecks and alternative routes, if any. The details of permanent
identification marks and the names of local contact persons with their address should also
be part of the map. The maps with the details of the location should be part of the Logbook.
3.2 Inspection of Logbooks
It is expected that for every monitoring site a log-book, also referred to as the well register, is
maintained giving location details in the form of a map and text. These details would include
geographical co-ordinates, height of Measuring Point (MP), structure design, construction
details, original depth, lithology, aquifer depth, discharge, and water quality details.
Information on the monitoring details including initiation date, monitoring frequency, details of
DWLR and cable length should be part of the logbook as well.
The logbook should be carried to the site every time a water level monitoring or water quality
sampling is carried out. The inspection team should examine data collection formats, and log
books and cross check them in the field, essentially for assessing the performance of the
field officer responsible for data collection, and assessing the training requirements and the
performance of the field instruments.
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The purpose of the logbook is to keep a clear record of checks and details of maintenance
undertaken when the site is visited. This includes routine monitoring and inspection by
supervising officers. The logbook is an extremely important link in the data quality audit
chain. The design of the logbook will depend upon the type of the monitoring well, design,
type of instruments installed and the frequency of monitoring.
3.3 Inspection of Local Site Conditions
The observation wells forming part of the water level and water quality monitoring network
are largely private or community owned open dug wells. In the case of piezometers these
are all located on the premises of government institutions such as schools, colleges, local
government offices, electric sub-stations, health centres, inspection bungalows, police
stations, village centres or other government lands. It has been noticed that in many cases
local agencies or interested volunteers have been of assistance in protecting the
piezometers from vandalism as well as helped maintain the surroundings by cutting the
grasses/weeds/branches etc. In some situations, the local institutions have not been of much
assistance in giving protection or maintenance. The reason for the indifference can be due to
lack of awareness on the utility of the water level monitoring structures and its relevance in
their life. This situation needs to be altered and awareness should be created regarding the
benefits of reliable data.
Figure 3.1:
Carry out regular inspection of all
piezometers and observation wells
by a team headed by the Data Centre
In-charge, to ensure that data generated
are reliable
The annual inspection team have to sensitise the local people regarding the utility of the
piezometers and the need for proper maintenance. It would always be useful if the design of
the structure and the instruments used are explained along with sample sets of different
data. This would generate interest in the local authorities and communities to help, if not in
maintenance, at least in preventing vandalism.
The neighbourhood of the piezometer, both inside and outside the fence, has to be
examined. Water logging conditions, sewage dumps, pumping wells etc have to be identified
and their influence on the data generated examined. The corruption of the data, if any,
because of the influences in the neighbourhood should be examined and remedial actions
suggested. This would refer to, for instance, the growth of weeds and grass inside the
enclosure and the branches of trees outside hindering movement and maintenance work.
Provisions have to be made for cutting weeds and grass once every quarter and to prune the
branches every year.
The cost of cleaning the neighbourhood of the piezometer should be worked out and the
person who can execute the job locally should be identified.
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3.4 Inspection of Fencing
In some states, piezometers with DWLR have been enclosed with barbed wire fencing. The
status of the fence and the angle irons posts anchoring them need to be inspected. During
the inspection, it has to be ensured that the prevailing fencing is not only good currently but
will also not deteriorate before the next inspection.
Figure 3.2:
Check barbed wire fence, angle
irons, gate and locks
The portion where the barbed wire is loose has to be identified. The maintenance
requirement for different tasks, including giving tension to barbed wire or replacement
wherever required, and painting or replacement of angle iron posts have to be identified.
Barbed wire fencing would likely need to be replaced more frequently in coastal areas/areas
with polluted air as compared to other areas Similarly, the angle iron posts, which are rusted,
damaged and need replacement should be identified.
3.5 Inspection of Protective Cover
The piezometers equipped with a DWLR have a protective cover. In many states
piezometers without a DWLR do not have any protective cover. The design of the protective
cover varies from agency to agency. It is mounted on a brick masonry/concrete (some times
pre-fabricated) platform anchored through bolts and nuts.
Figure 3.3:
Identify the components of the protective cover,
including the box, hinges, thermocol insulation,
bolts, nuts and locks that need maintenance or
During the inspection it has to be ensured that the protective cover is in good condition, the
top cover is not rusted, and the locked doors fully protect the instruments placed inside. It
has also to be ensured that rainwater does not stagnate on the top of the cover or seeps
through the base of the platform. The hinges should be in good condition. The Thermocol
insulation inside the box should be inspected and replacements suggested wherever
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required. The nuts and bolts that anchor the protection box with the platform need to be oiled
and greased regularly. The bolts will have to be opened whenever maintenance works have
to be carried out on the piezometer. Provision has to be made for painting the protective
cover and the board every two years in coastal areas/ areas with heavy air pollution and in
other areas every 3 years. The masonry platform also has to be inspected for any
development of cracks. The maintenance budget should include provisions for repair of the
platform every time the protective cover is removed.
3.6 Validating Geographical Co-ordinates
The geographical co-ordinates corresponding to the location of the piezometer need to be
validated by the Data Centre Manager. The validations should be carried out with the help of
the toposheet (1:50,000 scale) brought to the site. Using the brunton compass, locate the
piezometer site accurately on the toposheet.
Figure 3.4:
Verify the accuracy of the geographical
co-ordinates assigned for the piezometer
using brunton compass and toposheet
The Lat. - Long. values should be read from the toposheet and the values verified. Validated
geographical co-ordinates should only be used for generating different types of maps and
cross sections.
3.7 Inspection of Observation Wells
The observation wells, which have been the main source of data on water levels and water
quality for the last three decades, need to be inspected. Declining water levels, drilling of
bore-wells/ tube wells as reliable drinking water source and the easy availability of power
have resulted in discontinued maintenance of the observation wells. In the absence of
alternative sources, these observation wells continued to be used as monitoring wells by the
groundwater agencies.
Figure 3.5:
Spend time at observation well site,
ensure that data generated are useful,
reliable and representative
0.00 50.00 100.00 150.00 200.00 250.00 300.00
0.00 50.00 100.00 150.00 200.00 250.00 300.00
May - 2002 Page 10
Inspection of the network should focus on the relevance of some of the observation wells.
The inspection should clearly indicate that the observation well continues to represent the
regional groundwater system that is being monitored and continues to generate reliable
data. It has also to be ascertained that the groundwater does not get contaminated with the
surface run off, sewage/ domestic waste and can continue to be used for water quality
monitoring. The well platform (in the case of domestic wells) and the stone/cement covering
that prevents collapsible material from falling into the well also have to be examined.
3.8 Inspection of Surface Casing of Piezometers without DWLR
The piezometers that have not been fitted with a DWLR in many cases do not have a
protective box. The top-casing pipe of the piezometer has in many cases a protective-casing
pipe of galvanised iron along with a cap. The protective cover is usually painted. It is
exposed to the vagaries of the weather and vandalism. The status of the protective cover
has to be inspected.
Figure 3.6:
Inspect Piezometers without a DWLR.
Check protective casing, cap and masonary
platform, and identify maintenance
The necessity of painting and repairs if any has to be recorded. It has to be closely
examined whether the cap is able to cover the piezometer properly. The inspection team
should recommend on the frequency of painting required. In case the surface casing pipe is
of PVC and is not protected with a GI casing pipe, it has to be ensured that the PVC pipe
does not provide scope for vandalism. The necessity of proper fencing of the piezometer
sites has to be examined. The status of the platform also has to be examined.
3.9 Calibrate Measuring Tapes
The first indicator of the health of the piezometer/observation well is the water level. Manual
measurements of the depth to water levels should be carried out during the inspection. The
manual water level measurements should be recorded and compared with the DWLR water
levels wherever available or with the previous readings in the piezometers without a DWLR.
The inspection team should discuss with the officer in-charge of regular monitoring the type
of method to be used for manual water level measurement and calibration of the tape.
Manual measurements, are considered very simple and basic, and usually taken for granted.
The errors that creep in are ignored or arbitrarily corrected. The different methods used for
water level monitoring are discussed on the following pages:
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The most popular method for measuring the water levels is to use a metallic tape. A stone
or bob is tied at the lower end. The tape is lowered into the piezometer. When the sound of
the bob hitting the water level is heard the corresponding measurement is noted and
recorded as water level Below Measuring Point (BMP). Where the water levels are deeper
than the tape length additional pieces of some known length are tied to it. The measurement
of water levels with a metallic tape should not be considered reliable as it has in-built
deficiencies which change from person to person and tape to tape. So it should be replaced
by other standard techniques.
Measurement of water levels using electrical dip tapes is another practised method. The dip
tape is battery operated and touching the water the indicator gives a beep sound/glowing
light or both. Run down batteries, poor contacts and cuts in the tape may give erroneous
This method is more reliable but it has to be ensured that the graduations marked on the
tape are correct. It is recommended to purchase electrical tapes from companies with proven
accuracy and reliability. The graduations need to be validated using more than one tape.
Another popular method is the wetted tape (hold & cut) method. In this method a graduated
steel tape is used for measuring the depth to water levels. A weight is attached to the lower
end of the tape. The lower part of the tape is coated with chalk. The steel tape is lowered
until part of chalked portion of the tape is below water. The reading from the MP is noted.
The tape is then pulled up and the wetted chalk portion read. This reading is then subtracted
from the measurement at the MP, which is the actual water level depth. This is a very
reliable method for water level measurement.
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Manual measurement of water levels has to be taken up only by using a reliable tape. In the
piezometers fixed with a DWLR this has to be carried out once every month before down-
loading the data. Cross verification of the measurement of water levels more than once and
adopting more than one method should be made a standard practise, every time water level
measurements are carried out.
3.10 Examination of Water Level Hydrographs
The field officers responsible for water level monitoring should be concerned about more
than just measuring water levels. They should be aware of the details of the aquifer system
being monitored and the formations penetrated.
The inspection team should reassure itself of the optimum performance of the piezometers
in the course of the inspection. Examination of the water level hydrographs of the concerned
piezometer along with the well section and design at the site itself should be part of the
inspection. The response of the water levels to recharge and discharge effects in the form of
annual and seasonal cycles has to be verified and, wherever required, compared with
neighbouring wells which tap the same aquifer. Less than desired responses to different
situations have to be taken up as cases for detailed field investigations.
Figure 3.7: Examine the response of water levels to recharge and draft.
Have a good understanding of the aquifer being monitored
and the piezometer design. Identify piezometers showing less
than optium response for further investigations
In such situations, it is likely, that the water level in the piezometer is not fluctuating
simultaneously with the piezometric head of the tapped layer, due to lack of response or time
lag. The piezometer could then be failing to provide the true information of the aquifer being
monitored. Water level data emerging from such piezometers cannot be considered as
reliable. Such piezometers should be subjected to detailed investigations for identifying the
nature of the problem in the piezometer.
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3.11 Identification of Maintenance Tasks Based on the Inspection
Based on the findings from the inspection, the team should be able to recognise the physical
status of the piezometer, as well as what is happening down the hole in the piezometer.
When it becomes difficult to recognise the sub-surface behaviour based on the available
evidence, additional tests may have to be conducted to find out whether the piezometer is
operating efficiently or maintenance has be carried out. The inspection team should be able
to build a mental picture on the situation down-hole by:
measuring the depth of the piezometer
measuring the water levels
recording the obstructions met with while measuring the depth of the piezometer
examining mirror observations reflecting light down the piezometer
examining water level hydrographs
The field inspection team, basing itself on these checks, should be able to infer whether the
monitoring structure can generate accurate data. The results of the check should be used to
pick up indicators of deterioration likely to set in. Then the inspection team should be able to
give expert advice on the different standard maintenance and preventive maintenance tasks
to be carried out. In the case of non-representative monitoring structures, decisions have to
be taken on the remedial actions or alternative options recommended. The inspection team
has the professional responsibility of ensuring continued efficiency of the different structures
that are part of the network.
The inspection team should report the observations in the prescribed inspection report. A
sample format of the inspection report is given in Table 1, which may be customised
according to requirement. The inspection report on individual observation wells and
piezometers should be sent to the concerned Data Processing Centre In-charge for
information and necessary follow-up action.
The inspection findings should form the guidelines for additional field tests to be carried out
and maintenance activities initiated. Maintenance work should be carried out at the
appropriate, to ensure systematic generation of authentic groundwater data.
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Table 1: Annual Operation and Maintenance Inspection Report
Date: District: ..
Agency: .....
Mandal/Block: . Village: ...
Longitude: Latitude: ...
R.L.: ... M.P.:
Well No.: ... Well Type: .
Total Depth: . Aquifer tapped:
DWLR Details, Make. S. No.: .
Capacity Range: .....
Installation details: .
Inspection team members: .
Parameter Query Response
Approachable throughout the
Areas of poor approachability
Periods of poor approachability
Alternative routes, if any
Period for which data generation will be
Scope for identifying a local observer
Solution for ensuring continuous data
Status of the neighbourhood of the
Does anything in the neighbourhood
affect data generation
Details of influencing conditions
Distance of the influencing zone from
the piezometer site
Will the data generated be influenced
seasonally or throughout the year
Has the influencing zone come up after
the establishment of the piezometer
Is there a possibility of data corruption
of observation site
Does the data need any correction
Status of the
Name Board
Does the name board need any repair.
Does any detail mentioned on the
board need correction or addition
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Is the well currently used
Is the water reported to be potable
Is the well reported to go dry
Is there any physical damage to the
Does the monitoring well represent
a regional aquifer system
Status of
Observation Well
Does the well platform protect it
from entry of surface seepage
Is the fencing completely protecting
the piezometer from vandalism
Does the fencing need any main-
What length of fencing needs
What length of fencing needs
Does the angle post need any
When was the angle post painted
last time
Status of the
Barbed Wire
fencing around
the piezometer
How many angle posts need
Is there grass and weeds around
the piezometer
Status of the area
besides the
Are there any branches of trees
covering the piezometer which
need to be removed
Is the protective cover anchored
with the cement plat-form
Does the protective cover show
any rusting
Does the protective cover need
Are the doors of the protective
cover completely protecting the
instruments inside
Does the protective cover need
repairs or replacement
Status of the
protective cover
of the piezometer
Do the locks need replacement
Has the masonry platform
developed major cracks
Does the masonry platform allow
seepage of surface water
Status of the
masonry platform
around the
Does the masonry platform need
repairs or replacement
Is the casing pipe protected and
is the cover attached Status of casing
pipe exposed to
outside Does the casing pipe require
painting or other maintenance
May - 2002 Page 16
Frequency of manual water level
measurements Water Level
Frequency of DWLR measurement
Does the water level hydrograph
clearly bring out annual/seasonal/
diurnal cycles
Is there a reason to believe that the
water level hydrograph is not
responding optimally
Does the depth of the piezometer
show any reduction
Depth of the
piezometer Does the diameter of the piezo-
meter show any reduction
Observations of the team:
Recommended follow up work if any
May - 2002 Page 17
4 Follow-up of Field Investigations
The field investigation report should clearly mention the number of observation wells that
need replacement or repair. The number of piezometers that need additional investigations
have to be identified. The report should also suggest the type of follow-up studies to be
taken up.
Field Observation Inference Follow up Technical Task Remarks
Geophysical bore-hole logging
Caving zone
Depth of the piezo-
meter shows reduction
Siltation due to
caving from weaker
zones or break in
the casing/screens
Flushing - Development Restore the
original depth
Cleaning through pumping Clogging of
Remove clogging
Siltation Flushing - Development Restore the
original depth
Steep decline in
water levels
Piezometer deepening or
Water columns
beyond measuring
range of DWLR
Replace DWLR or change the
transducer depth
measuring range
Non-responsive water
Reduced Hydraulic
connection with the
Hydro-fracture Improved
Growth of other
For growth of roots in the bore-
wells, design appropriate tools
to clean the piezometer walls
of the roots
Difficulty in lowering the
measuring tape
Other obstructions Flushing
Restore the
May - 2002 Page 18
Operation and Maintenance Estimates
Well No. Village
Item Qty. Rate
(in Rs.)
Unit Amount
(in Rs.)
1 Cutting of branches Job/year
2 Repair approach (wherever required) Job/year
Clearance of grass, weeds and branches
(every six months)
4 Giving tension to barbed wire fencing Job/year
5 Replacing barbed wire fencing Job/year
Replacing broken angle posts Lump Sum
7 Providing U nails and barbed wire etc. (LS) 6 Kgs.
8 Painting the protective cover (every 2 years) Job/year
Replacing the protective cover (wherever
Repairing the masonry platform (wherever
11 Replacement of pad-locks (every year) Unit
Painting the outer casing pipe (wherever
Strengthening the casing pipe (wherever
14 Sounding the piezometer (every year) Job/year
Geophysical down hole logging (wherever
Development through pumping (every three
17 Pumping tests (every 5 years) Job
Cleaning of piezometer using cutting tool
(wherever required)
Cleaning the piezometer using compressor
(every 5 years)
20 Hydro-fracturing (wherever required) Job
Deepening the piezometer (wherever
Total Estimate towards Operation &
planning for O&M
will call for
preparing the O&M
budget with
adequate allocation
of funds for the
Listing of the
different activities
under O&M and
repairing an
estimate is a pre-
May - 2002 Page 19
4.1 Down-hole Geophysical Logging
Down-hole geophysical logging should be carried out on piezometers that are suspected of
siltation, deviations, incrustations and bacterial growth that need confirmation. Logging could
also be used to examine the well design and check for breakage in the casing pipes or
screens. The borehole logging tools can be chosen from the following:
Type of Logging Information Obtained
Calliper Diameter of the borehole, permeable zones and type of clay, casing features, casing
leaks, screen position and build up, if any
Spontaneous Potential Lithology, permeable zone, formation water quality
Resistivity Lithology, permeable zone, layer resistivity, thickness, formation water quality
Natural gamma Lithology, clay zone, water production zone, layer thickness
Temperature Permeable zone, casing leaks, fluid flow and water level
Conductivity Casing leaks, permeable zones, formation water quality and water level
Interpret the logging results carefully for detecting changes in the piezometer diameter,
zones that probably show caving, build up in the piezometer due to siltation, position of the
screens, break in casing or screen joints or leakage in casing joints.
The results of the logging should be the basis for deciding the follow-up activities for
revitalising poorly performing piezometers.
4.2 Pumping of Monitoring Structures
The simplest method of sustaining the performance of observation wells/piezometers is
through pumping. In this method, the monitoring structure should be pumped at a discharge
rate in excess of the potential discharge. During the pumping the effort should be to over-
May - 2002 Page 20
pump the monitoring structure. Pumping would remove the storage water/ replace stagnant
water as well as help in limited removal of fines in the case of piezometers.
In privately owned dug wells used for domestic purpose it might not always be possible to
carry out the pumping. However, this should not be a problem with the agricultural wells
used for monitoring.
In the case of piezometers pumping may not always help in fully cleaning of the piezometer.
This has to be followed up by other steps such as using compressors/ drilling rig, jetting and
in limited cases even hydrofracturing. Piezometers throwing up a big amount of fine
materials during pumping run the risk of getting spoiled because of sand locking in the
Cleaning of piezometers through pumping using submersible pumps needs to be carried out
as a regular maintenance procedure. The frequency of pumping will vary from piezometer to
piezometer depending upon its performance. Regular checking of the specific capacity will
indicate the need for cleaning through pumping. Declining of the specific capacity should be
considered as an indication for carrying out the pumping. Every piezometer has to be
pumped once every three years as part of development. In many cases the piezometers will
come up for pumping as part of water quality sampling. However, this should not be
considered as a cleaning technique as the water quality-sampling pump is of low discharge.
Cleaning through pumping should be considered as an independent process.
May - 2002 Page 21
The procedure to be adopted is to pump the piezometer using a suitable submersible pump.
The pump capacity, discharge and depth of lowering should be guided by the yields obtained
during drilling/development of the piezometer. Preferably, the pump should be placed above
the screen in the case of unconsolidated rocks or against the deepest water-yielding zone in
the case of consolidated rocks. The procedure should involve pumping of the piezometer in
multiple spells. Water levels and discharge have to be monitored during the tests. Initially,
the piezometer should be pumped till the water level drops close to the suction limits. The
initial water is likely to be muddy with some fines. After the pumping is stopped the
piezometer should be allowed to recover. In many situations it is likely that the pumping
discharge and water level will start rising compared to initial levels due to the process of
development. This should be followed by another spell of pumping and recovery. The
process of pumping and recovery should be continued until the pumped water is clear with
no fines, and till the water level rise is stabilised.
4.3 Carrying out Aquifer Performance Tests
After cleaning and development through pumping it would be advisable to carry out
systematic aquifer performance test for estimating the aquifer parameters. The change in the
characteristics of the groundwater reservoir and the aquifer parameters over time, need to
be understood. This would be beneficial in improving the computation of groundwater
Step-draw-down test and constant discharge tests can be carried out on the piezometer.
4.3.1 Step-draw-down Test
The step-draw-down test should be performed on piezometers constructed in the un-
consolidated formations, primarily to understand the efficiency of the piezometer. An efficient
piezometer with minimum well loss would reflect a good hydraulic connection between the
aquifer and the piezometer, thereby indicating that the piezometer is reflecting the regional
aquifer system very well.
May - 2002 Page 22
In the step-draw-down test the piezometer should be pumped in increasing levels (steps) of
pumping discharge. For each step water levels have to be monitored systematically until the
water level reaches a steady (or near-steady) state. Every step has to be sustained for a
period of 60 -100 minutes or until the drawdown in the well ceases to increase any further.
The analysis of the discharge in comparison to the draw-down data will permit estimation of
aquifer and well loss. This is the base on which a good hydraulic connection of the
piezometer with the regional aquifer can be inferred.
4.3.2 Constant Discharge Test
A pumping test with a constant discharge needs to be carried out for estimating the aquifer
parameters of the tapped aquifer. The test involves pumping the piezometer at a constant
discharge rate. The water level changes need to be monitored systematically in the
piezometer as well as in any well in the neighbourhood tapping the same aquifer. An
analysis of time-distance-draw-down data provides estimates of the aquifer parameters.
The pumping tests are not an essential method in the process of development. However,
they help in understanding the aquifer system being monitored as well as in recording any
changes in aquifer characteristics over time.
4.4 Development of Piezometer
Declining performance of the piezometers will be the result of accumulation of fines in the
fractures, mineral scale, slime bacteria, silt or sand build-up, changes in the aquifer or the
geological area around the piezometer. With the right equipment and techniques, these can
easily be removed from the piezometer. Other problems, such as large physical
obstructions, extensive damage to the well screen, or changes in the aquifer due to natural
events may not be so easily resolved.
Piezometer development should be undertaken for removing unwanted materials and
improving the flow of the surrounding aquifer to the piezometer. Development should
physically remove silt, clay, fine sand, scale, and befouling and correct any deficiencies
during construction. This can be accomplished through jetting, surging and/or airlifting.
Development will clear unwanted materials from the piezometer and its surroundings, and
serve to integrate the piezometer into its environment. No matter how carefully a piezometer
has been designed and constructed, over a period of time development is essential to
ensure its efficiency and water quality.
Development to be carried out on piezometers drilled in consolidated and unconsolidated
formations must be different. In the latter case, development of the piezometer would require
movement of a drilling rig to the piezometer site. This needs some preparatory work
including site preparation, removal of fence, clearing of bushes and branches of trees,
removal of DWLR and protective works. The drilling rig has to be positioned carefully to
prevent damage to casing and well assembly. Details of the piezometer including type and
combination of casing used, the total depth of casing and depth of water bearing zones should
be made available to the development unit.
May - 2002 Page 23
In tube well designs jetting is the most effective way to clean the well screen and rehabilitate
the surrounding aquifer. Jetting involves shooting jets of water through the screen and into
the formation while simultaneously pumping the dislodged materials out of the well. The
water column should be agitated effectively after the jetting through spells of airlifting.
Chemical solutions can also be used for clearing the drilling mud clays, bentonite mud,
encrustations, bacterial growth etc. Fresh water mixed with sodium tripolyphosphate should
be circulated through the screen. The well should be allowed to set until the polyphosphate
can effectively work on the mud cake/ clay masses and desegregate them. Simply poured
into a piezometer, the chemicals will not be effective; they need to be followed by physical
cleaning. Chemicals that are hazardous and also change the quality of the water should
never be used. Before using chemicals, a water quality analysis has to be carried out and
any major changes in water quality subsequent to chemical treatment should be clearly
recorded. Such piezometers should not be used for drawing major inferences on
groundwater quality characteristics.
4.5 Removal of Roots
Special cutting tools have to be fabricated for cleaning the piezometers where growth of
roots is seen. While designing the cutting tool, piezometer details such as its diameter, the
lithology of the formation and the nature of the water bearing formation have to be kept in
mind. The drilling rig should be properly positioned keeping in mind the deviations in the
piezometer. The cutting tool has to be lowered below the surface casing after which the
walls are cleaned with a rotary movement. The cleaning should be stopped 1 metre from the
sounded depth. The cutting tool should be pulled out and replaced by the button bit, and
cleaned to the bottom. Airlifts should also be carried out with a compressor. Occasionally
the cutting and air-lifting should be stopped and the piezometer allowed to recuperate before
repeating the process. Airlifting has to be carried out for longer periods against the water
bearing zones.
4.6 Hydrofracturing
Hydrofracturing should be considered as a technical option only for reviving piezometers
that show clogging of fractures or those piezometers that show limited hydraulic connection
with the aquifer that is being monitored. Hydrofracturing can be carried out in consolidated
rocks especially in those piezometers where complete development cannot be achieved.
Based on the logging data the aquifer should be isolated using packers and hydrofracturing
should be carried out. Geophysical down-hole logging is a pre-requisite before hydro-
fracturing, for isolating the aquifer being monitored. In hydro-fracturing pressurised water is
May - 2002 Page 24
injected to clear the fines from the fractures. Care has to be taken to see that new fissures
are not created in the process of hydrofracturing. The process involves injection of water into
the fracture zone and the fines are washed out. Specialised infrastructure is required for
carrying out hydrofracturing and is available with the agencies involved with groundwater
development for rural water supply. Care has to be taken to see that the water injected
matches with the quality of water in the piezometer.
The steps involved in hydrofracturing are:
Study the lithological log of the piezometer.
Identify the aquifer position. Carry out geophysical down-hole logging and decide on the
aquifer where water is to be injected.
Lower a dummy tool to check the verticality and diameter of the piezometer to ensure
that the piezometer has not collapsed
Carry out a discharge test using a submersible pump for finding the pre-fracture yield
Fill the piezometer with potable water so as to remove the air from the piezometer and
isolate the fracture zone using the packer. The packer should be inflated with the
hydraulic pump.
Inject water into the fracture using a high-pressure water pump. The injected water will
start working into the fracture. Continue the propagation for 5-10 minutes. Repeat the
injection for shorter spells.
Carry out post fracturing yield tests. Repeat the logging for comparing the pre- and post-
fracturing changes in the formation.
May - 2002 Page 25
4.7 Deepening of Piezometer
Deepening of the piezometers in consolidated formations can be taken up in select cases
where the piezometers show partial penetration, seasonal drying up or large declining water
levels. The deepening should be undertaken after ensuring that the tapped aquifer is
extending deeper. Geophysical resistivity surveys should be carried out prior to deepening.
Before deepening, the deviation of the piezometers has to be examined. Piezometers with
large deviations should not be considered for deepening. The diameter of the bit used
should be considerably less than the smallest diameter of the piezometer. Deepening of
piezometers will be risky if the targeted aquifer is not clearly demarcated. During deepening,
there is a potential danger for the piezometer to collapse.
May - 2002 Page 26
5 Maintenance of Digital Water Level Recorders
Maintenance of DWLRs installed on the piezometers will be a major issue coming up in the
next few years. DWLRs are under warrantee for the first year and subsequently are covered
under an AMC. Poor functioning/failure of DWLRs in the different agencies is not
uncommon. The different makes and different models have their own specific problems.
Combined with operating errors of the field staff, the performance of DWLRs has been less
than satisfactory.
The O&M programme for the DWLR has to be systematically planned. Efforts should be on
to identify poorly performing DWLRs and bring these to the notice of the vendor for suitable
action. Since the DWLRs are under AMC, contractual obligations would require that only the
vendor is allowed to attend to any repairs. Experience shows that since vendors are not very
prompt in attending to the problems it would be beneficial if the field staff have the requisite
training in identifying potential problems and forewarn the vendor of potential problems. The
optimum performance of the DWLR should be verified in the field by validating the water
level recorded by the instrument with manual measurements. It has to be ensured that a
calibrated tape is used for manual measurements.
The major problems in DWLRs functioning have been related to depletion of batteries,
sensors not responding to commands, water ingress, excessive power consumption, poor
contact of the communication cable between data logger and the Data Retrieval System
(palmtop computer/hand held terminal), limitations of the software and its user interface. As
part of the O&M strategy, the agencies will have to ensure adequate training by the vendor
to the field staff. Regular contacts have to be established with the vendors so as to ensure
that different problems reported from different locations are attended to immediately. It has
to be ensured that the vendor has an adequate inventory of essential spares. Regular review
meetings have to be carried out with the vendor and also the manufacturer for evaluating the
performance of DWLRs, identifying critical areas requiring attention and for anticipating
potential problems.