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Groundwater Hydrology: Using Manual Water-Lifting Devices In Groundwater Pumping Labs
Mercer University’s Groundwater Hydrology course has been incorporating low-cost field testing and exploration methods for the past several years, including manual drilling techniques, inexpensive geophysical testing techniques, and manual pumping. This paper focuses on the use of manual water-lifting devices (bailers and pumps) that can be effectively used to test hydraulic conductivity, well drawdown, and well recovery.
Pumping tests are conducted using two methods. An established ‘bailer test’ is carried out using bailers that can either be purchased on-line or built in a university setting using affordable materials available at local hardware stores. Pumping tests are also carried out using an EMAS Pump, a low-cost direct-lift pump that can be fabricated using basic tools with materials commonly found in local hardware stores.
Potential benefits to students of incorporating the fabrication and use of these two manual devices for groundwater hydraulic testing relate to active learning methods and understanding of fundamental engineering theory/knowledge. Students carrying out these hands-on groundwater hydraulics tests using manual devices may be more likely to remember the procedures of the test, compared to using electric or fuel-powered water-lifting devices which can distance students from fundamental mechanical aspects of the pumping/water-lifting process. In turn, students may be more likely to retain over time the principles of groundwater flow. Student learning of pumping theory/processes is another benefit.
The use of low-cost manual water-lifting devices can be combined effectively with other appropriate technologies, such as manual drilling techniques to install wells, and low-cost geophysical instruments (e.g. resistivity meters and seismophones) to detect soil types and depth-to-water. These affordable groundwater education technologies are very appropriate to teaching in university field labs due to the affordability of the instruments as well as their suitability to teaching fundamental engineering theory and applications.