Faculty Mentor

Susa H. Stonedahl

Subject Area

Engineering, Geology


Many simulations require accurate measurements of saturated hydraulic conductivity, a sediment property that governs the speed at which water flows through sediments relative to head differences. The goal of our project is to design and build an inexpensive permeameter capable of producing accurate hydraulic conductivity values. We tested four permeameters; a standard research grade constant-head permeameter, a falling-head permeameter modeled off of an in situ stream method, a constant-head permeameter made out of 4” PVC pipe, and a similar constant-head permeameter made out of 2” PVC pipe. Our custom-built constant-head permeameters both utilized a U-shaped design, two tubes which form a manometer, and multiple output overflows. Despite significant differences in design, method, and cost, we found that all four of the permeameters yielded relatively consistent mean hydraulic conductivities with low standard deviations (0.004-0.019). We also compared the attributes: price, weight, and number of parts. Our conclusion is that because the average K-value and standard deviation of each design is within reason, the best choice depends on the practitioner’s situation and intention.


Permeameter, Hydraulic Conductivity, Design