American Society of Civil Engineers

Frequency Analysis of Shallow Water Tables for Drainage Applications

by David A. Chin, F.ASCE, (Professor, Dept. of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering, Univ. of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124. E-mail:

Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, Vol. 137, No. 6, November/December 2011, pp. 491-497, (doi:

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Document type: Journal Paper
Abstract: In coastal areas with shallow aquifers, the minimum elevation of newly developed land is typically required to exceed the water-table elevation corresponding to a given return period. Determination of this regulatory water-table elevation usually requires a nonstationary frequency analysis of measured water-table elevations. In this paper, a simple and effective power-transform frequency-analysis procedure for extracting the requisite regulatory water-table elevation is presented and demonstrated. This procedure identifies the critical period yielding the maximum water-table elevation for a given return period, which is a robust regulatory elevation that might not need frequent updates. The assumptions underlying the proposed power-transform frequency-analysis procedure are shown to be valid at 23 of the 24 wells investigated in this study.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Frequency analysis
Water table
Shallow water
Coastal environment

Author Keywords:
Flood protection
Frequency analysis
Water table