Frequent measurement of below ground water levels at multiple locations is an important component of many wetland ecosystem studies. These measurements, however, are usually time consuming, labor intensive, and expensive. This paper describes a water-level sensor that is inexpensive and easy to construct. The sensor is placed below the expected low water level in a shallow well and, when connected to a datalogger, uses a pressure transducer to detect groundwater or surface water elevations. Details of pressure transducer theory, sensor construction, calibration, and examples of field installations are presented. Although the transducers must be individually calibrated, the sensors have a linear response to changing water levels (r2 ??? .999). Measurement errors resulting from temperature fluctuations are shown to be about 4 cm over a 35??C temperature range, but are minimal when the sensors are installed in groundwater wells where temperatures are less variable. Greater accuracy may be obtained by incorporating water temperature data into the initial calibration (0.14 cm error over a 35??C temperature range). Examples of the utility of these sensors in studies of groundwater/surface water interactions and the effects of water level fluctuations on tree growth are provided. ?? 1997 Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Additional publication details
Use of inexpensive pressure transducers for measuring water levels in wells