M3 Features

New method of measuring ground water level

March 2, 2014

In recent years, the huge quantity of water drawn for drinking and irrigation purposes is causing a rapid decline in ground water level. The water level needs to be frequently checked so that if there is excessive use in a certain area, water usage can be stopped till the water table stabilises.

However, the method currently used by the state government to measure ground water level is an antiquated manual method. Hence it takes a lot of time, which is not what is desirable if frequent measurements are needed to be made. The current method employs a rope, at the end of which is tied a stone. This is then lowered into wells specially dug for the purpose of measuring water level (there are three to four such wells in each block). When the stone touches the water, the length of the rope inside the well is noted, and hence the water level is found out.

Now, scientists at the civil engineering department of IIT Kharagpur have devised a method wherein SMS is used to find the water level. This makes it easy and fast to transmit the information.


Huge cost advantage over imported equipment

According to scientist Dhrubajyoti Sen of the civil engineering department, this method is already in use in some countries. However, the cost advantage of the IIT’s method makes easily makes it the better option. If imported, the cost of just each unit, consisting of a microcontroller and a pressure sensor, would come to Rs 75,000; plus, there is the cost related to the SMS service. On the other hand, the cost of the equipment being tested by IIT Kharagpur, along with the cost of sending SMSs (at a frequency of once every four hours), would be just Rs 250.


The IIT experiment

The method adopted by the IIT Kharagpur scientists makes measuring ground water level easier:

  • The equipment consists of a microcontroller, a pressure sensor and a wire.
  • The microcontroller unit has a SIM card inside, the ones used in mobile phones. 
  • The pressure sensor is attached to the microcontroller using a wire, and is lowered into the ground.
  • The microcontroller remains above the ground.
  • Using the pressure of the water, the pressure sensor measures the level of water in a particular area.
  • This data is transmitted to the microcontroller through the wire.
  • The microcontroller sends this information through SMS to pre-decided numbers. 
  • Hence one is able to get the information from the comfort of one’s home or office.
  • The number of times a day or after how many days the ground water level measurement has to be taken can be set in the microcontroller. 
  • This is being tested in a few pump houses in Kolkata as well as at the IIT campus.


According to water resources minister, Soumen Mahapatra, the state government is aware of the water problem, and steps are already being taken to solve the problem of getting information quickly on the level of water. A research centre has been set up by the department which is researching the issue of automatically knowing the level of ground water. He said that the results of the experiments conducted by the IIT is very encouraging. If its method is found to be cheaper, then the government would definitely look towards adopting the method.


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