Last edited 02 Jun 2021

Dewatering construction sites

Dewatering refers to the removal of groundwater and/or surface water from a site before construction work commences. This may be necessary on sites where there are trenches and excavations in which water can accumulate, in places where there is an inadequate slope for water run-off, or where there is a high water table.

Dewatering techniques typically include pumping and evaporation and may include the use of:

  • Centrifuges.
  • Vacuum filters.
  • Filter presses.
  • Drying beds.
  • Sludge lagoons.

For more information, see Dewatering equipment.

Care should be taken when pumping to ensure water is being discharged somewhere suitable, otherwise erosion and other problems can occur. Best management practices must be followed when pumping water to lakes, wetlands or directly into storm sewers.

NB The SuDS Manual published by CIRIA in 2015 defines de-watering as: ‘The lowering of groundwater/surface water levels or the removal of water from a substance.’

Culvert, screen and outfall manual, (CIRIA C786) published by CIRIA in 2019, defines dewatering as: ‘The process of handling and/or reducing significant flows of water (especially groundwater) into an area where construction work is being undertaken.’

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